Open Source Software and Linux

Feb 11 2009   1:14AM GMT

A response to Why are some open source people so adamant about doing a discervice to their users?

John Little Profile: Xjlittle

I want to respond to a post by one of my fellow bloggers titled Why are some open source people so adamant about doing a discervice to their users?

I will be the first to admit some people are close to fanatical about software that they use. Most notably I’ve seen this with Open Source users, developers and administrators and Lotus Notes developers and administrators. Fanaticism about anything causes people to do and say things without thinking them through. I am referring to the administrator in the aforementioned article. That, however, is not what this post is about.

In his post Mr. Denny states and asks the following: “However I recently saw a post on /. about how a university network admin wanted to start switching the university over to open source.The only thing that came to mind was why on earth would you want to do such a disservice to your students?” How is this a disservice?

The truth of the matter is that it is more of disservice to not want to do something like this. It is more economically responsible than just going out and blindly buying proprietary products (read licenses) without thought to less expensive open source alternatives that provide the same capabilities.

Then all of a sudden we switch gears to something more specific: “In the article he’s talking about replacing Office 2007 with Open Office. Which is a fine idea for home, or for a business; however an educational institution should be more concerned with making sure that the students have access to what they will be using in the real world when they get into the job market.”

First I want to point out that the statement contradicts itself. He says it’s “fine idea for home, or for a business” but then says that students should “have access to what they will be using in the real world when they get into the job market.”. Most people go to work for a business Mr. Denny.

Moving beyond that my personal experience with Open Office is that the learning curve is minimal with the word processor and non-existent with the slide show or spreadsheet modules. I know that Microsoft used to sell a pared down version of Office for around $10 or $15 to students. Isn’t it better for the students to have a full working version of whatever software that they are going to use?

To his credit he does state that in an ideal world students should have access to both versions. I do agree with this. It is the only way to for anyone to make a valid decision about any product that they use.

This statement is the one that really gets me though: “While open source is great, most large companies (which is where most university students want to end up) don’t use much if any open source applications.” I’m positive that what he means by this are companies like IBM, NASDAQ, Eli Lilly, Yahoo!, Wal Mart and Lockheed. Let’s not leave out government agencies like the NSA, the U.S Navy and the U.S. Army. I know these people use Open Source, Mr. Denny, from either personal experience or from talking with people that work at these places. Maybe you should get out more or, at the very least, take off the Microsoft blinders.

I could go on but I believe that I have made my point. By the way Mr. Denny, you say that Open Source is great. Have you ever actually used it consistently for longer than a week or two?


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