Linux Desktop for university staff

Hodgins Family ehodgins at
Thu Feb 17 02:03:16 UTC 2005

Good evening! 
On Tue, 2005-02-15 at 19:18 -0600, Les Mikesell wrote:
> On Tue, 2005-02-15 at 16:14, Hodgins Family wrote:
> > I'd like to refocus this thread by posing a  question to the OP: 
> > Many universities have computing departments that have been using *nixes
> > for decades (before Microsoft and Apple were popular). How does the OP
> > propose to do what these departments have been unable to do? I mean,
> > while it is a  commendable idea to bring Linux to university staff (it
> > is free, customizable, generally secure etc), how will you propose to
> > convince the professors to switch from their "pet platforms"?
> It's really all about applications.  Those decades-old unix versions
> had text mode apps that were great for server-side and automated
> work but not something you'd like to use interactively.  Now there
> are decent fonts, nice GUI features and most of the apps that
> anyone would need available for Linux.  Some people may have
> already given up their choices by allowing their own data to
> be stored in proprietary formats that require specific programs
> to access, but anyone starting from scratch should find everything
> they need on Linux.

I would offer the thought that the decades-old unix versions have long
since fallen by the way-side in these departments. Rather, these
departments have had the same access to current distros that we enjoy
(Heck, many of these departments HOST the mirrors that we download our
distros from). So the question comes back: Tenured experts in *nixes
have been unable to hold back the proliferation of expensive OS amongst
their peers. How would the OP do things differently? It really merits
some attention. 

Here are 2 realities that I feel will oppose the OP in his/her quest:

1) The professoriate are a class that strives for acceptance amongst
their peers. If it is "generally" accepted that program X works in a
certain way, our academics will be more inclined to use that application
even if an alternative is cheaper, faster, "better", more secure, etc.
Peer pressure is not something to be ignored. And remember, more money
is simply a grant proposal away. The cash to be saved by using open
source is simply not an issue in the academic world.

2) The professoriate are also subject to "ego". I would argue that it is
more important to the academic class to be seen using an expensive
application (for show-value) instead of a cheaper (or free) application
that might imply that their work/research grants don't merit a higher
level of funding. And ego amongst our academics is as vital a force as
peer pressure.

While I agree with Les that it does come down to applications, I have to
point out that it doesn't just come down to applications. I want to
state that the OP must recognize and address the wants and needs of the
audience. Otherwise, he/she might just wind up putting together a basket
of software that might address an academics needs but won't feed the
academics status.

Have a great day,


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