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3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
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marcus777
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marcus777,
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5/29/2013 | 7:01:06 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
The only reason gnu/linux has not been widely adopted in the classroom is one(1): capitalist oligarchy. <===== the reason

The Win-Tel and Apple iSlave marketing engines (and dollars) are the sole reason for late adopters in the public schools. (see reason one above)

The good news is that gnu/linux is being used widely by students @home. I have raised two teens on the gnu/linux challenge (one is a senior next season, the other is a sophomore in college next season) whereby they used only free (as in freedom) software : ie, they did not use mac or win products... ever.

My kids pushed hard into FOSS, and did all of their class research and school projects using gnu/linux and LibreOffice (everything in our home from the cable modem to the print servers are gnu/linux based... as are all of our client machines which are mostly AMD based notebooks )

Education of course is the key to education! My kids are advocates too. More of their friends are leaning into the FOSS movement and the power and freedom of gnu/linux systems. Many of their teachers are now using gnu/linux @home and that means only 'time' before we see it in our neighborhood in the classroom.

Dream big, work hard, think smart.

Cheers
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
5/30/2013 | 1:07:57 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I'd be curious how often your kids ran into extra hassles because they weren't on the standard/expected platform. With more online distribution of content, I'd think using non-standard browsers or file formats could be an even bigger issue.
kmcowan
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kmcowan,
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5/30/2013 | 3:04:34 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
If a child learns on Linux, Windows and Mac are no problem. As for non-standard browsers, you need to check out current distributions. Chrome and Firefox, etc are available for all platforms. A child learning on Linux will be far better prepared for the future than a child learning on Windows or Mac.
marcus777
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marcus777,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/30/2013 | 6:00:49 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
@davidfcarr:disqus

kmcowan is correct. My young people used primarily firefox. Chrome has come into the picture for them (although I don't like it, its not free software [spyware, handcuffs]) and LibreOffice (formerly they used OpenOffice) is not only open&free it also supports all common formats including docx... so they have had no real hassle.

I will be completely open and honest with you on this point because we did have one tiny baby snag... in physics class. The prof wants the kids to signon to Minds On Physics to run their mops exercises. This requires a special flash plugin that is proprietary (and doesn't really work right under the best conditions on either IE or Safari either for that matter. So, for that one exercise they used a library computer tweaked just for them.... Yes, the MOPS people heard from me big time. time will tell.

There is no such thing as a non-standard browser. That's the point of a browser period. *ANY* browser should do the trick, and all browsers should be supporting HTML(5) with no DRM (no SWF no Flash, no Quicktime.... We must all insist on open file and document formats and refuse to use anything proprietary. Our freedoms in the future depend on it !

Cheers
ANON1234983254489
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ANON1234983254489,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2013 | 3:07:56 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
In my experience, kids that know multiple operating systems are better versed overall. It's like learning a second language, instead of a single language. It's been proven that learning multiple languages makes you more fluent. It's the same concept in operating systems. The "standard" platform, what is that? Didn't you have to learn Windows at some point? Learning an OS is not as difficult at some tend to believe. I agree with this article that GNU/Linux takes a little of setup work however, but most school staff needs a computer guru around no matter what OS they are running anyway.
oliver stieber
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oliver stieber,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/15/2013 | 11:07:15 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I've run Linux at home for donkeys years (over 13) and all my flat mate and friends use it (many computer novices, some with much more windows experience [used for uni etc...], some with no experience at all in computer).
I've never had anyone really have any issue, maybe had to point out which app to use the first time (or create a friendly icon / link for it)

Some also use windows at work, or started to use windows at work more either before or after being my flat mate, partner or just general drop in who needed to use a computer. Still no complaints about the differences, as they are generally minor or Linux can be setup to be smoother.

You'd expect adults to be a bit more of a difficult buch when it comes to change or non 'standard'

As for getting initial configuration setup, a whole bunch of poor schools could chip in together to get one or two well skilled staff to get the setup working and standardized across all of them.
kmcowan
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kmcowan,
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5/30/2013 | 3:16:48 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I have to agree with Marcus777 and take issue with your thesis, Mr. Booker. The primary mission of your article appears to be to try and obscure the reality of the situation, and at the same time propagate tired, old myths. The truth is that these 'educational discounts' you mention come with strings attached that translate to a proprietary lock on the software environments, and to billions in profits for the aforementioned companies. The truth is that Linux offers greater security, reliability and stability, hands down. The open-source community provides a wealth of supporting applications for user and network administration. And all for far, far less than any of these discounts.
Ellis Booker
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Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2013 | 4:35:29 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
kmcowan, you should know that I'm a Linux user myself, and I was trying to parse out why--why, for heavens sake!--open-source isn't more common in U.S. education. To your point, discounts from MS and Apple aren't the reason people don't use free software. Rather, the discounts are an answer to this competitive threat (growing out of an effort to stave off illegal copies).

I completely agree with you, by the way, about the inherent benefits of "greater security, reliability and stability." So, why isn't Linux more common in K-12? If I had to pick one thing, it'd be lack of familiarity, followed by the understandably fractured nature of this platform, which has lots of flavors (one of reasons I love it).

Another excellent point raised in the comments above concerns the impact of browsers and cloud services. Once everything happens using a browser front-end, switching OS horses becomes a much more trivial issue. --Ellis Booker
oliver stieber
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oliver stieber,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/15/2013 | 11:09:31 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
teachers or such, that's the problem. As you say they could leave their beloved office behind. (ok email is good in office etc.. apart from that I find Libra office or LayTex much much better)
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2013 | 6:31:42 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I think it is solely because there is no multibillion Dollar business giant behind a Linux flavor that pushes this to the masses with sleazy deals...and it isn't from Microsoft, so many IT leaders already say 'No' to it even if that is the only reason.
TreeInMyCube
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TreeInMyCube,
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5/30/2013 | 7:41:10 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I have to agree w/ Mr. Booker, and would generalize his points 1 and 3 -- it's about the people. Having a sales rep (and possibly a technical sales support person) who can talk to the people at your school or school district is important. Each of the commenters are self-supporting, and so Mr. Booker's point #2 (unfamiliarity) is just not applicable to you. Unfamiliarity -- especially in the areas of system configuration and trouble-shooting -- is a fact of life, and a hurdle to be overcome for further adoption of FOSS in K-12 education. I am certain that there are K-12 success stories, which have been catalyzed by knowledgeable parents and teachers, who have already crossed the unfamilarity barrier. I am certain that there are many school districts where the entire IT team consists of one teacher in each building, doing this task on top of lesson plans and grading papers. If that person doesn't already know Linux, it is a non-trivial even to ask him (and it usually is "him") to get trained up. Ignore the people issues, and you've missed the boat.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
5/30/2013 | 10:19:38 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
While I somewhat agree I wonder how then Android became the #1 mobile OS. Android is just another *nix flavor and there was nobody that showed anyone with their Samsung phones or Kindle tabs on how to use that system.
It is a people issue in the sense that nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft and for most that is reason enough to do just that.
TreeInMyCube
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TreeInMyCube,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2013 | 5:26:20 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Yes, I agree. Showing people what to do with a system (Android or Linux) requires little effort. Consider the amount of *setup* that an Android system requires -- take it out of the box, turn it on, go to your app store. To get that level of "ease-of-setup" from a Linux laptop, you need a Linux SME -- either paid or volunteer.
C64
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C64,
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5/30/2013 | 10:21:44 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Simple America doesn't educate it's people on options within their country. Another is that America is very introverted when it comes to companies, they see Microsoft or Google and even Apple and think yeah American and go with it. It's all about education and it just doesnt happen in the US away from businesses
DarkWyrm
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DarkWyrm,
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5/31/2013 | 10:54:08 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
As a computer teacher in a central Ohio private school, I can easily say that Mr. Booker has nailed it pretty well. All student laptops at my school dual boot and all student machines in the library run only Linux. The students are more receptive than the staff to trying new things. The staff... not so much. Unfamiliarity and resistance to change are the biggest hurdles for them.
MichaelADeBose
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MichaelADeBose,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/31/2013 | 6:27:43 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
One issue is awareness. Opensource software still seems like the great unknown to the average American. Even though many US corporations utilize and benefit from opensource software, the credit goes to the brand, a la IBM, Android, Apple (BSD and a technicality), but not opensource. The other issue is cultural and solely the fault of the opensource community. Probably a very over the top simplification, but we know that when the concept of Windows was first introduced to IBM, they felt that if you needed training wheels, you didn't need a computer. Interestingly this tends to be the prevailing attitude in opensource. Despite the fact that systems like Windows and OS X rule the consumer space, many in opensource would rather blame the user, for not wanting to deal with repos. A lot of us in opensource do not see freedom to choose not to hack as a choice or a right when in fact it is. The barrier to entry in the Linux world is the boot loader and look how many there are. If the open source world is really serious about greater adoption, there needs to be agreement on a single trouble-free-config-neutral install for the curious in every distro, then every distro agrees to mate that install to the exact same trouble free boot loader and all distros would call this install setup the same exact thing. This way, the curious, don't have to learn the peculiarities of a bootloader just to try a distro. Second by all distros referring to this trouble free setup as the same exact thing, the curious have a consistent idea of what they are getting regardless which distro they are actually trying. When new users don't have to figure out things that they don't have to worry about when installing Windows, then and only then will we begin to see greater adoption. Hence, Secure Boot, but we can solve that one too.
fyrelab
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fyrelab,
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5/31/2013 | 8:28:42 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I don't get it. I see laptops for $200 with W8 installed. Who can beat that price using a Linux OS? I'm sure if someone worked directly with China (Lenovo), there would be additional discounts. What's the big deal? Just negotiate with whoever supplies the hardware if you think you can save a buck. Granted, W8 is as user friendly as Linux, so Linux has a shot at the market, but while Linux is considered "free," it still comes with a lot of expense.

I've been watching this "Linux" debate for years. If it's so great, then use it. You don't have to sell it if it's free.
SMP
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SMP,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/4/2013 | 6:32:45 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
No you don't get it.

What schools want is a preloaded, OS maintained by others. What they get with Linux is a more powerful, flexible, stable, secure and cheaper OS than Windows, but one that requires the school to install it and maintain updates from scratch. Most schools have no IT capability at all. While this makes use of Windows difficult and problematic, it makes use of Linux impossible.
Bob_Robert
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Bob_Robert,
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6/6/2013 | 6:13:19 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Here's where the stagnant nature of the Public Schools becomes obvious.

Nothing would be easier than doing what the colleges do, and give credit for "graduate students" to take care of these things.

Rather than lock students into learning the standard text about the Civil War again, no matter how important it is to inculcate the supremacy of the state, why aren't the older students taking care of the IT infrastructure?

Senior Project: Upgrade the school to Debian Wheezy, ensure all network printers are never unreachable. Grade dependent upon degree of success.

Easy.
SMP
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SMP,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/4/2013 | 6:28:32 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
What is this article on about? Chromebooks which are storming the education market, and Google Apps for education which is widely used run on Linux. Basically Education is looking for a teaching tool for conveyance of information, not something to teach a particular OS or particular app, and the icing on the cake for Chromebooks is that they are Zero Maintenance, Zero Touch Administration clients.
Ellis Booker
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Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2013 | 3:03:30 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Which reminds me, I really need to pull the trigger and buy a Chromebook. (Have been waiting for new models--larger screens--out of Samsung.)
Mordock
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Mordock,
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6/4/2013 | 4:11:42 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
The linux advocates here are missing the goal of education. The goal is to teach our kids skills that they can use in the real world once they graduate and get a job. Not even 1 in 1000 US businesses are using Linux. They use Windows and Office. To teach our kids anything else is wasting everyone's time and money and doing a gross injustice to our children.

The goal of education isn't to save money by teaching our kids useless skills instead of what they need to survive in business. And as many people have said, it is arguable whether it really saves the schools anything, between the additional management required and all the educational discounts available from Microsoft and to the hardware vendors that bundle MS products with their equipment.

The kids don't need the confusion of having one OS at school then coming home to their parent's computer running Windows or even their own computer that is running windows. Keep in mind, even if the parents wanted to, they can't go down to the store and buy a computer that is pre-installed with Linux, let alone the flavor of the week that the school might be using.

As an IT administrator, I can't afford to keep experts on staff for both Windows and Linux, let alone people with knowledge of 42 different flavors of linux "distributions" that are out there. My users would revolt if I even talked about converting, and the majority of all business applications run only on Windows. So business is stuck on Windows whether you like it or not. We need to teach our kids Windows, not Linux.
tannji
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tannji,
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6/23/2013 | 6:24:08 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I taught older daycare kids and my two step-children to use Libre Office. It was easy to do, and once they had their feet wet, they largely taught each other, EXACTLY as they do with console gaming and cell phones. I ran into situations where they had incomplete school work because various staff at the schools "knew" that my kids didn't know how to use MS Office, and that their file formats were incompatible. We had a couple of very terse and brief conversations on the subject, the upshot being LISTEN to the student before you decide what you decide they can't do. My 13 year old eventually taught their IT wonk that it WAS possible to use a MS Works file in the current MS Office environment, and why he should have been using "free" software to begin with.
Mordock
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Mordock,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2013 | 11:22:18 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
You apparently did not understand my post. Not 1 in 10,000 businesses use Libre Office. By teaching your children Libre Office instead of MS Office, you have delegated them to second class citizen without the skills to get a job. Worse yet, you have placed them and yourself into the position of arguing with teachers and tech support personnel. Hardly the way to get along in the world or get an A in a class.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2013 | 3:59:28 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Ellis is right in his assessment - in plenty of school districts. The nearest district to me still uses Windows machines. They even have a collection of machines running Windows 98. Thankfully they don't connect those dinosaurs to the Internet. Other machines in the school were donated or purchased long ago. They usually run Windows XP. There is at least one high-end Apple computer lab for design, video, and audio editing on one of the campuses but it's likely the only lab running a modern operating system.
+ürniS017
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+ürniS017,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/5/2013 | 7:23:19 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
I manage a small intranet (30-40 workstations). I love open source and use Ubuntu for all my work needs.

I tried using Samba and OpenLDAP for auth, fileservice and printing, couldn't make it work. I tried Samba last time about 7 years ago and was horrified to find it in mostly the same state of config hell as I left it.
Bob_Robert
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Bob_Robert,
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6/6/2013 | 2:36:45 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Pure politics.

Keep in mind that the customer of the public schools is not the student, and it's not the parents, it's the politicians and bureaucrats who pay the bills.

These bureaucrats and politicians are lobbied HARD by Microsoft. They're told that "nobody" uses anything but Microsoft products, that "nobody" will be wanted in the workplace without skills in Microsoft products, and this is constantly pushed on both administrators and teachers.

F/OSS has no downside for education. The downside is pure politics.
tannji
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tannji,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2013 | 6:01:16 PM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
Arguing over who doesn't get what is obscuring who can and does get it. I have played with Linux off and on for years. The necessity of command-line tinkering threw me off, and only recently have I gone back, utilizing distros that mostly just work. Coincidentally or not, I also struggle far less now when I do use a terminal. I ran a large private daycare for about 10 years. My kids (in the 4 to 10 year old range) cared not one wit about what OS was running on the PC's I let them use, just as they never struggled with transitioning between console game "OS's". They also quickly learned to use Google to expose me when-ever I "doubted" that we could add something they wanted to the PC's in use. (I grew to encourage them in this)

Ask anyone in the job market if there is bias and ignorance at play in who gets hired... Of course there is, the same bias and ignorance at play in deciding what is possible or practical in IT infrastructure. Challenge these teachers and administrators to try and keep up with their students in a trial OS switch. I have already seen the results on a small scale, and the kids greatly enjoyed the challenge.

The greater challenge is in the dark back-rooms of security and shared-resource policy. If someone with any training or experience comes to dread setting up a secure environment for Linux users, it isn't going to happen in the vast majority of cases. THAT is where emphasis and development needs to be in the future. Capitalist Oligarchies are all well and good... But ask Nokia and RIM what happened to their former dominance? RIM in particular only hung in as long as it did because those corporations were more comfortable with the proven security policies for millions of Crackberries than any of the more able and capable androids.
oliver stieber
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oliver stieber,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/15/2013 | 11:00:59 AM
re: 3 Reasons Linux Doesn't Star In U.S. Schools
setting up file sharing on the network isn't necessarily hard and should be scriptable so you only have to do it once for clients, but it is non trivial.
To that point, I couldn't for the life of me get windows to share a folder on the network so that other things could see it, but I managed this in Linux with little problem (though I hadn't set-up security like a pro would, more like my windows 7 home basic would)
I haven't however tried other options such as VPN and in house /third party cloud services for file management.
Of course I run FTP/HTTP/VFS/Samba and all that kind of stuff, it's more the ldap type stuff and getting user management and ~ directories syncing nicely to a server so they can be backed up. I haven't seen a distro that does that nicely out of the box though it's really escencially for even home users with more than one computer on the network to be able to share stuff and sync passords, the local machine pam configurations that distros come with just aren't 'real world'

Just like none of them seem to come with LVM by default, which surly any sane person would want to use, and it can be fiddly to get working on install


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