[Linux-aus] New Federal Govt's Education/PC plans

Paul Wayper paul.wayper at anu.edu.au
Tue Dec 4 23:32:04 UTC 2007

David Lloyd wrote:
> Indeed - it may be easier to introduce people in education (students, 
> teachers, lecturers and such) to open source applications that provide 
> value rather than to an operating system.

This I totally agree with.

> Specifically, an operating system is rather useless without any 
> applications for most end users. Consequently, replacing Windows and its 
> host of applications (Microsoft Office, Matlab, Photoshop) with 
> something people don't know how to use is actually a step backwards.

Although, once again a point in our favour is that when people buy
Microsoft Windows they don't get any of those applications for free,
they all have to be purchased separately.  You can't find some
already-installed 'package manager' to help you install them, either,
you have to buy products at a store (usually).  So while I agree that
installing 'just' Linux - e.g. the kernel, the standard GNU utilities
and X-windows - isn't going to deliver any real value, a standard
install of Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, SuSE or whatever already delivers far
more than that.

Naturally, the end users of the talked-about laptops aren't going to do
this process - they'll get whatever system image is rolled out by the
team of experts who put it together.  The key feature I think we can
push here is that that Open Disc or Ubuntu install CD or whatever can be
copied and given out and shared and utilised in many more ways than any
proprietary software offering.

One point, here.  Whatever accompanying letter goes with the Open Discs,
it needs to have a way for the recipients to verify that what they're
getting is authentic.  I talked to a person who'd just done a week's
training on Microsoft Windows XP Pro and they were repeatedly told that
you should not install anything that is unsigned, and the trainer
acknowledged that that basically meant only products that it suited
Microsoft to sign.  So if that's the message that's being pushed, we
need to have something quite clearly in there saying "these are fully
legitimate applications - to verify them, you can ring us or email us or
whatever and we'll walk you through the whole verification process." 
Alternatively, simultaneously with sending out the CDs, approach the
party organisers to try and get them to pass on the message that these
CDs are OK.

While I don't think there are that many phishing attempts aimed
specifically at politician's offices, I don't think that any half-savvy
computer user these days expects to get an unknown, unsolicited CD in
the mail and just plonk it in their drive and press the go button.  The
last thing we want here is some sort of 'scare' caused by someone
misinterpreting our genuine offer of help as a dodgy scam.  If they can
try to pass bills banning dihydrogen monoxide, then they can easily call
the police on this kind of thing.

> So, the open source CD may be a good way to go as well with real support 
> by web-sites and by professionals.

I'll put my hand up here and volunteer to be a person 'on call' for any
MP who wants any help with using or installing the Open Disc.

Have fun,


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