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Education Government Open Source Microsoft Linux

Schools In Portugal Moving To OSS 319

New submitter thyristor pt writes "In light of massive national budget cuts, the Portuguese government will force public schools to move to free/open source software (Google translation of original in Portuguese). Schools with some 50,000 outdated computers won't see their software licenses renewed, the main reason being the cost of hardware upgrade inherent to mostly Microsoft software updates. Will the Euro debt crisis be a driving force to the spread of open source software?"
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Schools In Portugal Moving To OSS

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  • Re:Not likely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 30, 2011 @02:52AM (#37884508)

    I think a properly done open source installation can be better than the Microsoft alternative. At our university (Helsinki University of Technology) there are large Linux-only computer classes, and those computers just work. In Linux you will not have viruses, which is a big plus in the school environment use case. Also, managing those computers should be easy, although so is a properly done Windows installation.

    A Linux installation can also be made more lightweight than the Windows installation. Especially when taking in account the mandatory anti-virus software for Windows.

    The traditional problems Linux has in business environment are less severe in school environment: The Office compatibility issue is not there, and hopefully there aren't that many legacy applications to support. The students will learn Linux just as easily as they do learn Windows. If they have to use both Linux and Windows, it is just a good thing. Too many users know how to use Windows, not how to use a computer.

    Portugal has one big advantage in this move: they might get the educational software for free from Brazil. Same language, and Brazil is a heavy user of OSS. Brazil did a move of 350000 school computers to Linux in 2009. I don't know what the current status of the program is, but I suspect there is a lot to reuse from that move.

    Now, take in account that this installation is likely a lot cheaper than the equivalent Windows installation, and you have something that should be better for their school system. Of course, I can't say if it is objectively better from their position...

  • Re:Not likely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @03:29AM (#37884624)

    Have you tried Libre Office lately?

    Most people I've set it up for like it a lot better than the current ribbon-infested Microsoft version.

    Recently LibreOffice corrupted line art horribly in my documents which made me quickly switch to Office. I still cannot trust LO to be compatible with the rest of the world. Maybe for basic text-only stuff you're good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 30, 2011 @03:45AM (#37884674)

    I didn't like the Unity desktop at first, but it improved a lot since the first time it got implemented. You can get the hang of it in just a few minutes - if you are willing to give it a chance. Actually, it improved my user experience and i don't want to switch back anymore.

  • by Dot.Com.CEO ( 624226 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @04:17AM (#37884782)
    It's not the case with Portugal. Teaching software has to support (and in fact does support) Linux and Windows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 30, 2011 @08:33AM (#37885516)

    No. Prices close to that were true with XP back when Microsoft felt threatened with the linux netbook hype. I'm fairly connected in this area and have not heard of Microsoft selling modern versions of Windows on the cheap, not yet at least. This is why linux is again on the radar for netbook manufacturers.

    To all the people complaining about institutions using linux only to drive down the price of Windows, what's the problem? It's awesome that linux and the distros are making it cheaper for schools etc to get their computing infrastructure -- they'll have more money to to use on their real work. It's a victory not a loss.

  • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @12:35PM (#37886638)

    The embedded version of Windows 7 may have a small footprint, but would MS want to take the time and trouble ensuring that it runs on old hardware, some of whose manufacturers may no longer be around? It'd be one thing if they were supporting the same things that Windows 7 supports, just dropping memory requirements here & there, but if they're asked to support old hardware that was supported by, say Windows ME, they might understandably balk, since it's not trivial for them to re-obtain things that they had years ago, and one can't assume that they never dispose of their older computers. Also, why would they do it, since simply waiting it out might see the same people coming back to them?

    On the question of whether Linux is the answer to all these, it depends on the people who are doing this. If it is some clueless idealists being indoctrinated by FSF Europe, what you anticipate is correct. But if they've thought this out and are planning this - hiring people who know FOSS and can work closely with those who write the specialized software that these programs need, they could have better luck. For instance, they could start with edubuntu, and then see how easily or difficultly they can get their educational software onto FOSS platforms. Some of the special stuff, like the content driven stuff, is the main things they have to work on. As for the others, people are not going to get Office 2007 or Quickbooks, but that's where they'd need to start migrating to some of the alternatives. Of course, the people who write Libre/Open/K/-Office have to ensure that their suites are functionally on par w/ MS-Office, so that nobody can complain that critical things that they need to do and used to do on MS can't be done on the others. Oh, and there is no way this is going to happen quickly. Chances are that the computers they have are running fine w/ Windows for now, but they use the time b/w now and whenever they need to change to do a feasability study of what can be done in FOSS. Chances are that if their speciality software - by which I mean the stuff actually being used for education - is successfully moved, things like the Office Suite may not be the ones to hold them up. But like you said, it will take a lot of training, and will be similar to when a company undergoes a major software introduction - only much larger. Essentially, they'd have to bet that the cost of conversion would actually be less than the cost of upgrading all those 50,000 old boxes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2011 @03:22AM (#37892140)
    Pretty simple! Most people out there are not like you, who can whip up a bash shell and instinctively know which commands to enter, which files to edit, and so on. They need a GUI way to fix things whenever something doesn't work. And given that Apple has successfully done this, it clearly demonstrates that it's not impossible either. Just need the Linux dev crowd to get out of the mentality that every fix must be doable from the CLI, and you're virtually there. Read: CLI solutions are not quicker nor simpler, unless you already know how! Neither is whipping up a vim or an emacs session to edit some file in /etc/ anybody's idea of fun - and by anybody, I'm talking your average guy on the street, not the ones buried in computer rooms happily typing away commands the same way that we're typing away our responses to various posts.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982