Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-edu (146 mails)

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Re: [suse-linux-uk-schools] OSE Conference
  • From: "Frank Shute" <shute@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 01:05:31 +0000 (UTC)
  • Message-id: <20000710020358.A1148@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Sun, Jul 09, 2000 at 08:49:53PM +0100, Malcolm wrote:
>
> i am interested in the comments to the list about Becta's stance re Open
> Source. While not defending it entirely i do sympathise with Senior
> (non-techie) Management opinions on Linux and Open Source.

I'm afraid Malcolm I'm not sympathetic at all. Becta's bowed down to
pressure from commercial interests to protect the status quo ie to
carry on giving those very same commercial interests large amounts
of taxpayers money.

It doesn't matter how you dress it up it's *wrong* that the debate
should be stifled in such a fashion by people who have got a
commercial interest in preserving the status quo.

> This debate is not untypical in many public and private sector
> organisations.

There seems to have been little debate about it, the only debate I
can discern is that there was a short 'phone call from some PHB of a
well known software company to the head of Becta telling him not to
`promote' open source software. I think you're right when you say
that this sort of `debate' isn't uncommon though.

> Some other facts about the Open Source debate in UK education:
> - that the main tier one suppliers are aware of Open Source / Linux, and
> some even might see a commercial model, the existing commercial model is
> extremely lucrative, the schools IT market is booming.

I'd guess these tier one suppliers have done their sums though:

Margin on linux with licenses = 0

Margin on NT with licenses = lots

Money for old rope, no wonder they're so keen to stifle the debate
and they're yet to supply a single linux box.

> - that the DfEE would like to commision 'public-source software' where any
> commisioned provider has to allow 'free' re-use and re-development of online
> content material. This of course is not populat amoungst the development
> community who again like the existing model very much.

There is nothing stopping the DfEE commisioning an open source
project tomorrow. There would be plenty of people within the open
source community who would be happy to be paid a sum towards
developing open source software for the public good, say through the
auspices of Suse for example.

This wouldn't be popular amongst the commercial development
community but it would be amongst those who are a bit more publicly
spirited as indeed the open source community generally are and it
certainly would be popular amongst taxpayers who are currently
footing the bill for the very poor products supplied by very few
companies.

But I guess that such a thing is unlikely to happen since these
companies already have a commercial relationship with the department
and they now seem to be in a position to dictate department policy.

Isn't it about time that the dog should wag the tail though,
rather than vice versa?

> - lobbying has already been done to Tony Blair, Patricia Hewitt, David
> Blunkett and Alex Allan, with some success. Open Source is on the DfEE/DTI
> agenda, but maybe not very high up it

Thats Tony `blind trust/Bernie Ecclestone' Blair we're talking
about; maybe if we could offer him a million pound bung he might
just push it onto the agenda ;-)

> - One the UK Tucows mirrors is hosted by RM :-`, as is the UK mirror for
> Postgresql

For downloading software I generally use sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk hosted
at Imperial courtesy of Sun Microsystems; doesn't mean that Sun
should be given free reign to stitch up the market for IT in
secondary schools either.


--

Frank Shute

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