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Microsoft attacks schools, linux adocates provide alternatives

Microsoft has recently used the threat of software audits to pressure schools around the U.S. into accepting licensing agreements of questionable benefit to the schools. luckily, many linux advocates have been working on viable alternatives.
In an attempt to bully schools into their latest licensing scheme, Microsoft(M$) has been demanding software audits of schools in the 24 largest districts in Oregon and Washington, in addition to schools in 35 other states.

One of the questionalble terms of this new license requires schools to pay Microsoft $45/year for each and every computer, whether the computers are using M$ products or not. Essentially, the school would rent the right to use M$ products on all of its' computers on a per-computer basis, even if some of the computers were incapable of running M$ products. The new license also asks the districts to make "institutionwide commitments" to M$. In light of M$'s recent anti-trust lawsuits, it is downright arrogant they would propose such a blatantly monopolistic licensing agreement. While M$ has legal "right" to require software audits through copyright law, using such "rights" to attack schools with millions in budget shortfalls is simply stealing from the children.

Thankfully M$'s predatory tactics seem to be backfiring. Many school districts have started using viable alternatives such as the freely available and copylefted GNU/Linux operating system and other free software. Portland Public School district(PPS) has plans to install 16 new linux-based computer classrooms this fall. Projects such as K12linux have been facilitating linux in school systems.

Another interesting project was started by a joint relationship between PPS Environmental Middle School and a non-profit organization called Freegeek. Through a 6-week program, students learned about computer recycling and re-use, and built 5 linux terminals out of recycled parts, with new paint jobs of the student's design. This computer lab was built with 100% recycled parts, mostly with computers that are 5-7 years old otherwise destined for scrap materials, at best, if not landfills.

And just because they're old computers doesn't mean they're unbearably slow, since free software usually outperforms proprietary software on older computers. Free software is created and improved in the spirit of helping your neighbor, which is more likely to help someone out, even if it's not profitable in the financial sense.

Computer recycling and re-use is essential to ecological sustainability, since manufacturing a new computer can produce as much as 50 pounds of toxic waste, use 2,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 7,500 gallons of clean water. Mining for rare metals such as Coltan/Tantalum has devastated streams in the Congo and elsewhere. Inappropriate disposal of these machines may also create toxic landfills in third-world countries.

Considering the motives and predatory tactics of software companies such as M$, the ecological impacts of new computers, and the existence of viable free software alternatives, the time is ripe to End Corporate Dominance of computers- in our schools, homes, and the organizations we work with.

It's time to be "opposed to technology hurtful to the commonality".

this work is copylefted- terms as follows...

Copyright (c) Anonymous 2002 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. a copy may be found at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.txt

broken links 28.May.2002 10:57

Neo N. Ludd

despite many assurances that indymedia is easy to use, i have spent three days trying to get this article up, and now that it's finally there, the links appear to be broken. grrrr.

maybe this time they'll work

U.S. vs. Microsoft, anti-trust lawsuit  http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms_index.htm

a definition of copyleft
 http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/copyleft.html

GNU
 http://www.gnu.org

Linux
 http://www.linux.org

K12Linux
 http://www.k12linux.org

Environmental Middle School
 http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools-c/pages/environmental/home.html

Freegeek
 http://www.freegeek.org

spirit of free software, helping your neighbor
 http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

Feature Graphic 28.May.2002 12:10

indy editorial

Feature Graphic cause this is a cool article written by a local person
Feature Graphic
Feature Graphic

great article 28.May.2002 14:36

me

Thank you for writing this.

I think schools should use Linux, or at least seriously consider it.

Even if schools don't use Linux, they could use free software written for Windows, such as the word processor
AbiWord, which is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, QNX, and BeOS. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Word, but it is stable and should be fine for 99% of what students do 99% of the time. It supposedly requires only 16 MB of RAM for Windows and Linux.

 http://www.abisource.com/

OpenOffice 28.May.2002 15:04

Neo Ned Ludd

i also forgot to mention OpenOffice-
it's purportedly fully M$ office compatible, and runs on at least linux and M$-windows.
it's a little bloated, though not any more so the M$ Office, and it provides a nice compatibility layer.

 http://www.openoffice.org

i also encourage people to try Mozilla, which runs on linux , windows or MacOS as well.

 http://www.mozilla.org

if people get used to openoffice, mozilla and abiword, they're 90% of the way to using linux..

OpenOffice 28.May.2002 15:04

Neo Ned Ludd

i also forgot to mention OpenOffice-
it's purportedly fully M$ office compatible, and runs on at least linux and M$-windows.
it's a little bloated, though not any more so the M$ Office, and it provides a nice compatibility layer.

 http://www.openoffice.org

i also encourage people to try Mozilla, which runs on linux , windows or MacOS as well.

 http://www.mozilla.org

if people get used to openoffice, mozilla and abiword, they're 90% of the way to using linux..

No need for Micro$hit `products' 28.May.2002 20:16

a thankful friend of Mr. Tux

I've been using Linux almost exclusively for 3 years now. I use something else only when I need fancy hardware I don't own or to use some very specific aplication not availablef for Linux. EVERYTHING else I do on Linux. I have far far less computer related headaches than 3 years ago, and most of the one I have now are not due to Linux but caused by people who use nasty comercial systems. My understanding of computers have increased 100-fold, *at least*. And I found out that I need to remember to turn the computer off---if I go on holidays, that is. No more crashes.

I just downloaded KDE 3.0. If anyone has doubts Linux can be used as a perfect substitute for Micro$oft of MAcinto$h, just download it and use it a couple of days. I bet you'll be able to do at least 99% of what you need to do. About the other 1%, well , use other system for that. After all, I got used to everyday do things that just make M$ and Mac users drop their jaws, amazing things that have becomy dayly staple for me, but are simply impossible in M$ of Mac. And a lot of it is just *terrific* stuff to make kids truly computer literate. Kids don't need M$-Office to become dependent on; they need things like Emacs and Python and Apache and TeX and GIMP and MySQL. And dont forget the technical docs---megabytes of it, free.

Blow your kids minds---give them Linux. Just give it a try---you'll see it works.

And thanks, Mr Tux!!! :)

No need for Micro$hit `products' 28.May.2002 20:17

a thankful friend of Mr. Tux

I've been using Linux almost exclusively for 3 years now. I use something else only when I need fancy hardware I don't own or to use some very specific aplication not availablef for Linux. EVERYTHING else I do on Linux. I have far far less computer related headaches than 3 years ago, and most of the one I have now are not due to Linux but caused by people who use nasty comercial systems. My understanding of computers have increased 100-fold, *at least*. And I found out that I need to remember to turn the computer off---if I go on holidays, that is. No more crashes.

I just downloaded KDE 3.0. If anyone has doubts Linux can be used as a perfect substitute for Micro$oft of MAcinto$h, just download it and use it a couple of days. I bet you'll be able to do at least 99% of what you need to do. About the other 1%, well , use other system for that. After all, I got used to everyday do things that just make M$ and Mac users drop their jaws, amazing things that have becomy dayly staple for me, but are simply impossible in M$ of Mac. And a lot of it is just *terrific* stuff to make kids truly computer literate. Kids don't need M$-Office to become dependent on; they need things like Emacs and Python and Apache and TeX and GIMP and MySQL. And dont forget the technical docs---megabytes of it, free.

Blow your kids minds---give them Linux. Just give it a try---you'll see it works.

And thanks, Mr Tux!!! :)

ways to shut down a program 29.May.2002 09:43

The Jheri Curl Kid

Lin/ux gives you a number of ways to shut down a program/process; MS seems to give you only one: crash.

as far as Bill Gates' philanthropic background (the high school/academy he went to--Lakeside in Seattle, Washington--emphasizes philanthropy), you'd think a guy who was taught how to be giving (not necessarily *caring*) would give up some market share and allow competition which would, in theory, make his product that much better.

but that's the problem--he had to be taught how to give and share.

a lot of good being rich does.