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September 6, 2003

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SuSE's Joe Eckert

SuSE Vice President Joe Eckert mentioned that SuSE is:

working on "campus" versions here in the US of our desktop -- duplicating efforts in Europe where it's more traditional . . . . You'll be seeing our latest professional desktop probably in October.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Could you please tell me more about this "campus" version?

Joe Eckert: It's the full desktop product but just at a reduced price, and in the US will only be available at our EDU distributor as soon as we announce it.

SuSE, to its credit, has been very active in promoting Linux in schools. Previously, in a Linux giveaway program that SuSE started in March 2001, SuSE gave some 2,500 boxes of SuSE Linux 7.1 to qualifying U.S. high schools. (Please see our article, SuSE Linux Free for US High Schools.)

MozillaQuest Magazine: Whatever happened to the program where SuSE was giving SuSE Linux to high schools?

Joe Eckert: We are still running this program. We aren't advertising it very much anymore because the demand was so high. But, we send out free old products to any school that asks, after we have released the new one.

In our discussions about the importance of getting a good desktop GNU/Linux into the schools, SuSE's Joe Eckert went on to say:

I think that's what Holger Dyroff [SuSE U.S.A. General Manager] and the SUSE Germany folks have understood all along. This is why we are trying to push an EDU initiative here, enabling students and teachers to get reduced pricing on the consumer level desktop through an EDU distributor.

We are in the process of making our training material available for the general public very soon. Once this is the case, teachers can be trained and then use SUSE training material in the classrooms.

SuSE and Computers for Kids

SuSE's Joe Eckert also called our attention to a recent project in which SuSE donated 700 copies of SuSE 8.1 to Lehigh Valley Computers For Kids, an organization that provides free PCs to students in the Allentown School District in Allentown, PA. (SuSE Linux Donates Software to Allentown, Pennsylvania Schoolchildren, SuSE press release, Oakland, CA, 08/19/2003. Link in Resources section at the end of this article.)

We asked Randy Plessor, president of the non-profit Lehigh Valley Computers For Kids (LVCFK), why his organization chose GNU/Linux for deployment in its Computers for Kids (CFK) program. He replied via e-mail:

I view Linux as a one stop shop, in which CFK can provide an OS and related apps without breaking the bank. ... I did my research with other CFK's in the country. Most of them had to purchase Windows licenses to give with a free computer to kids. WRONG move Microsoft!!

Randy Plessor went on to mention:

I remember at the Linux Expo sitting at the SuSE demonstration and realizing how 8.2 professional is going to be a one stop solution for home and business. I got the product and the ease of the install was so, so easy. Much more straight forward than was Windows.

SuSE installed in 40 minutes, found all the hardware, installed my network DELL connection. All done within an hour. I thought this would be great for CFK. The KDE 3.x desktop was really easy to learn. Kindergarten through fifth-graders would not have an issue learning it, verses the Windows world.

Editor's Note: Both Microsoft and Red Hat were notified via e-mail of the negative statements in this section about them and/or their products and thus afforded an opportunity to respond to these statements. A Microsoft spokesperson responded but declined to comment. Red Hat did not respond at all. We take that to be admissions by Microsoft and Red Hat to the truth of these statements.

Microsoft Product Activation Note

GNU/Linux does not require any product activation nonsense nor does it require product registration.

If there were no other reason to chose a GNU/Linux OS distribution over MS Windows XP or 2003, not having to put up with the Microsoft product activation mechanism would be more than reason enough to chose GNU/Linux!

There are many reasons why Microsoft product activation is a bad thing. Discussion of all the bad and obnoxious things about Microsoft product activation is beyond the scope of today's article. However, a word of caution to anyone who is considering installing Microsoft Windows XP or 2003 on a computer system. The Microsoft product activation mechanism that Windows XP and 2003 places on your system can shut down your computer until such time as Microsoft decides to let you use your own computer. In other words, Microsoft, not you, ultimately is in control of your Windows XP or 2003 computer system

There is something that you can do to counter the Microsoft product activation mechanism if it does shut down your Windows XP or 2003 system. Install a GNU/Linux distribution on your computer before Microsoft can shut you down. This is called a multi-booting configuration. If you use a current GNU/Linux operating system such as Conectiva, Mandrake, or SuSE, you can boot into Linux and then access all your files on the computer even though the Microsoft product activation mechanism has shut down your Windows XP system.

For more about why Linux is so much a better choice, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows
The biggest challenge is the saving of documents. We got automount to work. We also established a common desktop in which was created an install server to serve this image down to all 2100 PC's for distribution to CFK kids.

Our common desktop features OpenOffice 1.x. . . . We also use AbiWord. This is a great word processor.

SuSE offers the platform for kids for easy learning. It is leaner and easier to load than Red Hat and more efficient for younger children.

Conectiva

Conectiva appears to be very active in promoting Linux in South America. Conectiva's Gordon K. Ho sent along an English translation of a recent Conectiva press release, Conectiva Desenvolve Programa Para Universidades, which details some of Conectiva's work with promoting Linux in the academic community. It's very impressive.

An English translation of the Conectiva press release, Conectiva Develops Program for Universities, is appended to this article on page 3.

Summary and Conclusions

An important way to get more people, businesses, organizations, and institutions to adopt, deploy, and use GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software is to get students and young people using them from an early age. Some Linux distribution providers (LDPs) such as Conectiva, Mandrake, and SuSE already are doing an impressive job of that.

The appropriate groups and organizations within the GNU/Linux community, as well as LDPs ought to do what they can to insure that colleges and universities offer courses in GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software. Many such as Conectiva, Mandrake, SuSE, and the Lehigh Valley Computers for Kids project already are doing that.

Additionally, there ought to be an effort to make completing courses in GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software required for degrees in computer science. However, as CodeWeaver's Jeremy White notes, it also is important to find out why that already is not done.

To the extent that elementary and secondary schools offer computer courses and training, those courses and training should include courses or units in GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software.

That's not to say that elementary and secondary schools or colleges and universities do not offer computer courses and training or units in GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software. Many do. Unfortunately, many do not and therein lies the rub.

Generally, most colleges and universities have people with the technical competence to adopt, deploy, and use GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software. And they have instructors with the technical competence to teach courses in GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software. In respect to getting more colleges and universities to adopt, deploy, use, and teach GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software, it likely is more a matter of evangelism rather than a matter of technical competence.

On the other hand, getting many elementary and secondary schools to adopt, deploy, use, and teach GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software, likely is a matter of both evangelism and technical competence. That presents a nice opportunity for GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software enthusiasts to go to their local school houses, enlighten the powers that be there about the benefits of GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software -- and then role up their sleeves, dig in, and help the schools and students install, deploy and use GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software.

An interesting part of the Lehigh Valley Computers For Kids (LVCFK) project is that it provides free Linux training for the kids to whom it provides Linux-based computers. One cannot use an operating system or application that one does not know how to use. The LVCFK project solves that sort of problem by providing the training.

Note: In the turnabout is fair play department, there is no doubt there are many college students, and likely secondary school students too, that are contributing to Linux kernel, GNU/Linux operating system, and open-source software development. But, is that because their schools are encouraging that participation, or is that in spite of the lack of Linux and open-source involvement by their schools?

So, GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software enthusiasts that get their local schools to adopt and deploy GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software ought to volunteer to provide the school people and students with training, if necessary and appropriate. While that might be asking the enthusiasts to do double duty, it does not in the long run help to promote adoption and deployment of GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software in schools and then not train the school people in how to use them.

Years ago, the Linux, open-source software, and free software communities were comprised mostly of developers. Today, those communities have grown tremendously and include many non-developer users.

The developers have plenty to do producing the software. Most non-developer members of today's Linux, open-source software, and free software communities are skilled users -- well capable of helping newbies to install, deploy, learn, and use GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software.

Helping to get schools and colleges to adopt, deploy, use, and teach GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software is a great opportunity for those non-developer members of the community that would like to do more to help promote GNU/Linux, open-source software, and free software.

  • See Conectiva Develops Program for Universities on Page 3 ----->

  • AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for the Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms


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