[Linux-aus] Recent comments made to Education and Health Committee
Jon "maddog" Hall
maddog at li.org
Tue Apr 24 21:56:24 EST 2012
[For some reason I got a return acknowledgment that said:
Delivery to the following recipients was aborted after 8 second(s):
* linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
so I tried sending it again.
I am glad, however, that the mail server waited at least 8 seconds before
flushing my email down the tubes.]
I would like to address some of the commentary used by Mr. Doyle (CIO
for Department of Education) in his testimony given to the Western
Australian Education and Health Committee for improving educational
outcomes for Western Australians of all
In his statement, Mr. Doyle says:
The open source is an alternative code produced by the IT
industry and techno people who do not like Microsoft and do not
like Apple and they are looking for cheaper alternatives that
they can develop.
While it is true that many of the people working on "Open Source" do not
"like" Microsoft or Apple, "Open Source" is not a "cheaper alternative",
but a BETTER alternative, able to be tailored to the needs of the end
Open Source code tends to be developed by the people who actually use
it, rather than people paid to develop software that others use.
Open Source software tends to have a longer usable life than products
which are updated only as long as the manufacturer sees a profit (or
stays in business). Companies like Nortel, Kodak and Compaq show that
even large companies are not "forever", and their products can disappear
By using Open Source software for teaching, you teach the students not
only how to use the software to solve their problems, but the students
have the chance to see HOW the software solves the problems. You also
have a chance (perhaps in upper level classes) to have the students
change the software to do the job better and easier. This teaches the
Some students, in working on this software may also have the chance to
collaborate with people working around the world. In learning
collaboration the students actually learn three times.
We do use Linux in our system, but it is not on the computer.
I suppose he meant that they do not use it on the desktop.
So it is about accepting that the standard in the world is
around Microsoft and Apple. They are going to be the major
players at this point in time.
These are, at best, defacto standards, developed and changed over time
to meet the needs of the manufacturer. Real standards are created by
standards bodies in a free and open way. POSIX, Single Unix Standard,
TCP/IP, ODF, etc. Open, Industry Standards where innovation occurs
above and below the standard, and the standard changes only when all
Which is the MS Windows standard that Mr. Doyle is talking about? W95,
W98, WinME, Win 2000, WNT, XP, VISTA, XP, Win 7, Win 8?
They will be the majority of systems that our students will face
when they go into the workforce.
98% of the world's fastest supercomputers run Linux, Linux is the most
used operating system in embedded system design, Linux runs on over 1/2
of all the server systems in the world today. Linux, in the form of
Android, outsells iOS on smart phones.
They will be the vast majority of systems in offices and
factories. Anything else would be built on those environments.
So it makes a lot of good sense for SOE and it makes a lot of
good sense for future planning that we stick to the accepted
major operating systems.
And keep shipping huge amounts of money out of Australia to other
countries. Keep "dumbing down" your students so they only know how to
push buttons until you can no longer have the technical expertise to do
"real programming". Keep denying your local programmers jobs in
tailoring the source code of business applications to the need of your
people, instead paying the obscene royalties to companies who can now
brag that they are the richest and most powerful companies on the face
of the earth.
What we call our tier 1 applications are spread right
across the system. Everyone is using them. They are quite
straightforward office productivity things like Word and Excel
those types of things.
So Mr. Doyle is saying that if Australian students use Open Office
(which runs on xOS, MS Windows, Linux and BSD) they will be smart enough
to drive the Australian economy to greatness (building bridges, doing
brain surgery, being CIO of the Department of Education for Australia),
but will be too stupid to learn how to use Microsoft Office in ONE DAY
if they ever encounter it in the field?
Mr. Doyle should insist on using portable applications that are across
as many systems as possible. This will protect the investment of
training no matter what underlying platform is used in the future.
Where is any type of facts and figures in this testimony? How much does
it cost Australia, even if they get the first round of proprietary
software "for gratis", to maintain the application software across all
the different flavors of MS Windows? How much does it cost for the
applications that might go beyond his "productivity things", while he
ignores the 430,000 Open Source applications that exist out on
I am not Australian, so I have no "right" to address this august body,
but I could not let this "testimony" go by. Perhaps one of you will add
to what I have written and submit it to them.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Luke John.
Jon "maddog" Hall
Executive Director Linux International(R)
email: maddog at li.org 80 Amherst St.
Voice: +1.603.673.7875 Amherst, N.H. 03031-3032 U.S.A.
Board Member: Uniforum Association
Board Member Emeritus: USENIX Association (2000-2006)
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