Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 15th Jan 2009 23:20 UTC, submitted by poundsmack
In the News There's a story making its rounds across the 'net about a woman who missed several online classes, and failed her semester, and she claims this happened because she bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on it - instead of Windows. She didn't know what Ubuntu was, and was surprised to see that her Windows software, such as Microsoft Office, didn't work. While this isolated case sounds a bit ridiculous, there is still a bigger problem here.
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Member since:

This woman was obviously ripped off. She got a computer that does not do what she wants. Let's face it, she wants it to work with windows, and the software that comes with that. If you wanna play geek rebel that is all fine and dandy, but then you do so knowingly. It doesn't matter if you love or hate windows (I personally hate it), it is the standard today and so is the office package (which I hate all so very much more).

But open source is free! You scream. No it is not. There is no fee for the software, but it is not free, you still need to learn to use it, and for the online educators that is a cost that more than likely is higher than requiring windows. Pushing your agenda on them I feel is not in the spirit of free nor freedom. But to be honest, GPL has never ever been about freedom.

What is important here are two things. Don't push your agenda on others, and open standards are what is important. I can take a jpeg I take with my digital camera and use it with all major OSes today, and I can sit down and write a piece of jpeg reading software and display it myself if I wanted to, since I am a software engineer. The data isn't locked into a vendor. This is not true for documents, and that is a problem.

So to sum it up, open and royalty free standards for data is very important. Pushing your fascist agendas are not.

Reply Score: 0

Macrat Member since:

Let's face it, she wants it to work with windows, and the software that comes with that.

You are assuming that she even knows what Windows is.

Reply Score: 15

Michael Member since:

If she doesn't even know what Windows is then she wants Windows.

Reply Score: 4

Dryhte Member since:

Not at all.

It's exactly those people you want to teach to work with the likes of Ubuntu, Suse, Mandriva... Since they don't know what a computer does anyway (let alone Windows), you can still teach them to use any (userfriendly) flavor of linux relatively painless.

Actually, I believe that's the idea behind the locked-down software on, for example, the EEE pc.

Those people are happy when you show them: this program opens all your text documents, that program is for the internet, and this is your chat program.

They couldn't care less that their programs aren't called Word, IE and MSN Messenger but OOo Write, Firefox and Pidgin.

Reply Score: 1

christianhgross Member since:

Did you not read the article?

The woman got a computer and tried to use software that would not load, nor run!

This means she would have been way better off with Windows.

There are people on this planet who want to use the computer to get things done, and not have to tweak, twiddle and figure out what is right or wrong.

DELL should have given her a new notebook plain and simple.

Reply Score: 0

poundsmack Member since:

other things that are important:

1. having enough self esteme to stand up to a dell tech over the phone and insist on getting what you want (in this case Windows).

2. If 1 is null Then, try learning how to use the new operating system, or find an alternative, or go buy a copy of Windows. don't give up and drop your classes and blame your laptop.

3. if 2 Then, you're problem solving skills are clearly not very high so maybe college isnt right for you anyways. Else, 4

4. But clearly she became frusterated enough to contact a local TV station in order to complain about the problem. should have used those skill points better, 15 points that went into "whine about it but do nothing" could have been put into "actively come up with a solution." See 1. (my other 2 picks were sneak and small guns).

5. it's suprisingly difficult for your average user to even order a dell with linux. go to their website and see how many clicks it takes you and how obvious (or lack there of) the option for linux is as a choice for your perffered OS.

6. When all else fails she could have taken it into a local Best Buy (or insert your own lousy tech service store here) and watched teh very confused, and under tained tech go "your windows looks funny." to which they would have said "we need to restore the machine" which would have ultimatly fixed the problem as they would have put windows on it.

Moral of the story: I don't sympathise with anyone who just sits back and lets life happen to them. take control and find a solution, if your smart enough to attend college (and pass) your smart enough to do 5 minutes of research (or phone a friend, if you havent used that life line yet) and find out your options. who lets a dell rep tell them, "no its fine, you'll get used to it" and tehn accepts the answer later "you didn't get used ot it, that sucks now your stuck with it." learn to play...

Edited 2009-01-16 00:08 UTC

Reply Score: 21

Bully Member since:

Your missing the point of the article.

Reply Score: 4

orfanum Member since:

Is it just me or do all uebergeeks in fact as part of a secret ritual pledge to imbibe and act out the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power?

"Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust."

Reply Score: 1

christianhgross Member since:

Here is what I think happened...

Woman needs a new notebook. She has some friends, maybe one friend in particular that she trusts. That person said, "Buy Ubuntu, it works really well..."

Then she gets the computer and things don't work. She says she bought it by "accident". The friend who advised her doesn't have the time to fix things for her since they are busy fixing something else.

She gets frustrated and wants a new notebook, but again is advised,

"The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed," said Schubert.

Then she realizes that she can't get diddly done, panics and does the first thing many do, "complain to the media."

Reply Score: 1

jessta Member since:

But to be honest, GPL has never ever been about freedom.

Don't start that again. The GPL is about freedom, just not the unrealistic version of freedom you're thinking of.

I expect to have the freedom to say what I want to say, but I don't expect the freedom to prevent you from saying what you want to say. Which isn't complete freedom for me, but a lot more freedom for the society I live in. This is the reason the GPL is as it is, to increase the overall freedom of the society of users.

So to sum it up, open and royalty free standards for data is very important. Pushing your fascist agendas are not.

fascism...seriously? Asking universities to help their students by giving them more options to submit their work is fascism?
The article isn't pushing for universities to use Linux or Mac OS or any specific software. It's pushing to get universities to accept work in formats that are easy to implement(plain text, HTML etc), and so are available on majority of computer systems. Which is a very reasonable request.

- Jesse McNelis

Edited 2009-01-16 00:14 UTC

Reply Score: 17

flanque Member since:

I think what he's trying to say is that open standards (e.g. documents, images, sounds, network stacks, etc) are what is important, but GPL software is not.

Maybe I'm not understanding him properly though.

Personally I tend to agree with that. I think open standards inside of properietory software is just fine.

Reply Score: 3

Times change
by TechGeek on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Don't force extra cost on education either"
TechGeek Member since:

As a system admin in one of the foremost IT departments in the US, I am happy to say things are changing. There is little lock in happening in our department. While most machines have Windows desktops, most of our servers are Mac or Linux. We also teach many classes entirely in Linux. One of the biggest obstacles is Adobe. While they want people building the backend stuff with Linux, they arent supporting it on the desktop yet. So we need Windows at least to run CS. Most of our other classes could easily be switched to Linux. I also see a huge population of students running macbooks at the school.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Times change
by flanque on Fri 16th Jan 2009 02:28 UTC in reply to "Times change"
flanque Member since:

I think this has more to do with open standards and interoperability that specifically because for example MacOS or Linux is a superior operating system to Windows.

It's easy to argue that the protocols are part of the operating system so it's all tied in together, but I don't agree with that.

I think the reason things are changing is because the world wants and is trying to connect together and having proprietory protocols regardless if they're created by Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, etc is loosing relevence and is becoming more and more a liability.

I don't credit this to the "open source movement", the GPL (or any license for that matter) or Stallman and instead credit it to the world simply evolving and moving forward. Our demands are increasing and thus this is what is pushing vendors to be increasingly standards compliant.

As for Windows (since that's the primary desktop OS) and Microsoft.. they're changing too. It might not be as fast as we'd like but we've seen things happen at Microsoft that would be unimaginable 10 years ago. They're opening up - they have no choice - and it'll be for the better to all of us.

Does that mean they should open the Windows source code? Absolutely not. What it means is that Windows should be increasingly standards compliant. How they choose to implement the standards is their choice. If they create little gotchas here and there, then the consumer will increasingly reject their offer which will either force them to be compliant, or force them out of business.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Times change
by TechGeek on Fri 16th Jan 2009 03:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Times change"
TechGeek Member since:

But where did those open standards come from? Were it not for Linux and OS X I don't think there would have been a push for open standards. After all, if everyone runs Windows, who needs open standards? Open standards were created by the demand to not have to use Windows and still get along in the world.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Times change
by flanque on Fri 16th Jan 2009 06:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Times change"
flanque Member since:

I think the consumer, be it businesses or individuals, cause this need for open standards.

The world always has been moving towards increasing globalisation and has increasingly become competitive. In order for this to be achieved we need open standards to be the translation between alternative ways of doing business, living and points of view.

One way or another whether it's Linux, OSX, Windows, AmigaOS, BSD or any other OS for that matter, the need for open standards was always and will continue to be driven by the consumer's demands.

I think at least...

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:

I think open standards inside of proprietary software is just fine.

I'd agree with that wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, the vendors of some proprietary software (well, at least one major proprietary desktop software vendor anyway, and some of its partners) don't seem to agree at all.

Reply Score: 2

flanque Member since:

If you mean Microsoft, then I'd agree that they don't quite get it yet.

They will though. I don't think they have a choice.

Reply Score: 2

systyrant Member since:

The woman got what she paid for. It's that simple. Here first mistake was buying from dell (yes I have a low opinion of dell). Her second mistake was not understanding what she was buying. Her third mistake was being talked out of getting Windows by a dell rep. Her last mistake was obviously not going to a school with a computer lab that's available to all student.

As for schools. Teacher, in most cases, aren't any smarter than the students when it comes to computers. All they know is Microsoft products and in most cases they barely know that.

Now for agendas. Everybody has one. The 'fascist', as you call them, aren't doing anything any different than anybody else. (btw they are probably closer to communist than fascist). Not everybody who supports open source is a shining example. Some are down right rude and others are even spreading fud.

I believe in open and unrestricted standards across the board. I believe that it fosters competition and real innovation. It also allows the consumer more choice and fewer headaches.

At the end of the day though the reality is that Microsoft has one hell of a strangle hold the educational system. It has one hell of a strangle hold on the computer market in general. Maybe that will change one day, but I suspect it'll be a long ways down the road.

Reply Score: 2

LarchOye Member since:

Ripped off?

She didn't pay for microsoft software...

Reply Score: 3

ggeldenhuys Member since:

Yes, who says the woman knows how Windows works! And I'm sorry to same, but in this day and age, most OS's are pretty similar when it comes to interfaces. All you need to do, is READ THE DAMN SCREEN!

Also you keep stating "don't push your agenda". Well, what are the universities doing! They are pushing their agenda just to make their lives easier!! That is not right and not fair. I had a similar case when I studied at my univ. I did a course in C++. At the time I had a OS/2 machine. Little did I know they were forcing MS Visual C++ on everybody, not just the C++ language! They even graded us on specific features in the MS Visual C++ IDE. Yet, nowhere did they mention that, they just mentioned the C++ language in the course pamphlets.

I fully agree with your statement on open standards though! Promote that rather that a specific OS or software tool.

Reply Score: 5

Bernhard Member since:

Yes, who says the woman knows how Windows works! And I'm sorry to same, but in this day and age, most OS's are pretty similar when it comes to interfaces. All you need to do, is READ THE DAMN SCREEN!

You'd be surprised just how many well-educated people are totally unable to get that right. It's like a mental block that lets them freeze in terror as soon as there's an error message on the screen. Or, in the worse cases, if anything goes differently than their memorized "i just push that button, no i don't know what its name is" routine.

Reply Score: 3

sargek Member since:

Oooo, a Microsoft employee!

Reply Score: 2

My experience
by Angel Blue01 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 00:06 UTC
Angel Blue01
Member since:

My university was an all Microsoft shop. Well, there was a lab with VMware running on WinXP for the UNIX class. And the introductory programming classes are taught in Java. But other than that, just about everything in the computer science program and the IT department is from MS.

I was the sole Linux user my senior year, when I switched, although I saw more and more Mac users. Whenever I mentioned a non-Microsoft alternative (except for Firefox, which was very popular among students), classmates or professors would say the "But don't you have problems working with software?" line we all hear at some point. I just laughed whenever news came out of a malware patch that meant bringing some or other parts of the network down.

I switched to OOo in 2005 and had no trouble, except of course that OOo has limited support for MS Access, it can read tables and create queries but no reports or forms.

I guess the funniest situation was when one of my classmates, a computer information systems major who was going back to school after decades in the business world, had never heard of UNIX!

So knowledge of alternatives isn't as widespread as we'd like to believe, and there's a lot of FUD about it, but we knew that ;-)

Reply Score: 7

Consumer responsibility
by chekr on Fri 16th Jan 2009 00:14 UTC
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Call me a hard-hearted bastard but it is a consumers responsibility to understand what they are purchasing and if necessary consult a professional who can guide them in their purchase. If I buy a house I consult property valuers and structural engineers to advise me on whether my purchase offers sufficient value according to my needs...the responsibility of the agent is to be frank and honest not to understand what my needs are.

Reply Score: 9

RE: Consumer responsibility
by Michael on Fri 16th Jan 2009 11:42 UTC in reply to "Consumer responsibility"
Michael Member since:

and if necessary consult a professional who can guide them in their purchase.

That's what a sales person's supposed to be.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Consumer responsibility
by chekr on Fri 16th Jan 2009 12:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Consumer responsibility"
chekr Member since:

Ridiculous! The sales persons role is to SELL, SELL, SELL!!! if you think otherwise you're delusional. Only if the salesperson is dishonest or misrepresents a product should they be liable for its suitability to your needs.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Consumer responsibility
by r_a_trip on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Consumer responsibility"
r_a_trip Member since:

That's what a sales person's supposed to be.

Yes, but they fail miserably at it. I can't count the times I've seen sales personel pushing high-end desktop machines on to hapless people just asking for a machine that can surf the internet, type a letter and play solitaire.

Yes, that gamer enthusiast/AV editing station does bring in more commission, but people, would selling a mid-section machine every once in a while hurt that much if people asking for something simple come to the store?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Consumer responsibility
by hibridmatthias on Fri 16th Jan 2009 17:12 UTC in reply to "Consumer responsibility"
hibridmatthias Member since:

Uh, yes. Unforutnately, the US courts believe in Caveat Emptor. I don't want to debate it, it is just the way it is. Despite this,America in general doesn't hold people accountable for their actions, and thus the press labels it Dell's fault.

It's kind of like getting a ballon loan for a house one can't afford: Yes it is their fault for being ignorant and stupid, but since that person can't be blamed for their actions, it is painted as Dell's fault.

Reply Score: 0

Blame solely the university? No.
by mightshade on Fri 16th Jan 2009 00:41 UTC
Member since:

No, I don't agree with "it's all the university's fault".

Of course, you shouldn't try to force some format, operating system, whatever on your students. On the other hand, a university simply cannot support everything (including several operating systems) either. Otherwise, the next guy comes with his Haiku laptop and rants about the uni not supporting his OS.

My point is: A computer is a tool. When you need to buy a tool for doing some kind of work, you make sure it is the appropriate one. Would you blame the manufacturer of screws that you can't use a hammer to get them into your walls? No. So in conclusion, I think it's mainly the woman's fault for not checking if her tool suits the job. But there maybe is some fault on the university's side, too, because they didn't provide a proper "tool requirement" list.

As for Dell, if it's their experience that customers get along very well with Linux, I think it's perfectly reasonable for them to encourage you to use it. They can't know about the support for Linux of any university in the world.

Reply Score: 5

coolvibe Member since:

The OS choice is moot when the University uses open formats and protocols. That is what Thom is saying. Instead, they go for proprietary formats and put their heads collectively in the lock-in noose. This stifles innovation. It puts blinders on people.

Edited 2009-01-16 07:28 UTC

Reply Score: 6

mightshade Member since:

In a perfect world, yes. However, in reality, using open formats and protocols doesn't automatically mean that the tools for the different platforms are equal, so only the most fitting ones are usually supported/provided. Thom's stance seems just too black&white to me.

Reply Score: 1

bibe Member since:

I agree with Thom on this one, University should at least try to do something about vendor lock in by supporting open formats, which will not automatically mean support of all alternative OS's because that is just one side of the picture, the alternative OS's have to offer support for these open formats too, but there's almost no legal way for them to support closed up proprietary formats.

This reasoning is not universally applicable to every institution but it's very much compatible with the idea of university and what it should be, which this case is all about.

Edited 2009-01-16 16:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Microsot is ultimately to blame
by cmost on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:00 UTC
Member since:

People like to think they have choices but in reality, all the decisions are made for you. Your high school made a deal with Microsoft to pay next to nothing for Windows and Office applications, which they promptly installed on all their machines; which all the students learned to use, as well as all the teachers. Since the students used Windows and Office at school, they wanted the same at home so Microsoft granted huge discounts for their software for students. Teachers wanted the same deal for their home computers - poof! Granted by Microsoft. Students graduate and head out into the world or off to college, where the same situation continues. Employers know that students are trained on Windows and so that's what they use too to optimize productivity. Meanwhile, Microsoft also made exclusive deals with all the OEMs which ensures Windows is on most if not all brand new computers not sold by Apple, which everyone finds so convenient since that's what they use at school and work. And the vicious cycle continues ad infinitum. When alternatives appear; even if they're free and/or more powerful than Microsoft's offerings they can't get a foothold because they can't interrupt the cycle. Drug dealers operate the same way Microsoft has over the years. The first taste is for free and then you're locked in forever addicted.

Reply Score: 10

Knowledge Should Have Open Standards
by roddog on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:07 UTC
Member since:

The computer is not a tool, the people at the University who require students to use expensive and non-open standards are tools! I am a University professor and I constantly fight the administration over this. For example, yesterday I was looking for a particular text at our library. They had 2 copies of it but they were both electronic. In fact, they are hosted by some company named ebrary. And they only have Windows plugins to view the text online. The Library administration will not order the book on loan because they have electronic copies and I could go to the library and read it on their Windows machines... The same goes for our mail which is on Lotus Notes. There is not a 64-bit unix reader and Firefox 3 is entirely useless so it is impossible to get archived mail. This happens all the time and is standing in the way of learning just to support particular corporations...

Reply Score: 7

factotum218 Member since:

To be quoted by some one in your establishment.
"......Step 3, profit!"

Problem is, they do have a step 2. Don't bother paying for hard copy; you can't make in late fees what you could make in student fees by selling laptops.

Shrug my shoulders and shake my head wondering if where the money is going will be a return on investment.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by talaf
by talaf on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:12 UTC
Member since:

And what do you do when a teacher is a Linux zealot? Because that too can happen, with all the blatant lies and miscommunications about other OSes every 5 minutes. I mean, he dropped a student out of a class because the student booted up windows to write his report. Having a fairly good knowledge of them (OSes) I smile internally, but the class they forced me to take is fairly low level-wise. Most of these people don't know that he's exaggerating.

You're right on a point though, universities should favor and cater to all flavours of computers. But they also should present everything unbiased. Running Linux doesn't make you cooler or a knight of freedom, defender of some greater view of the world, it has advantages and drawbacks, on a personal computer or on a server. Same with Windows, same with *BSD, same with...

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by talaf
by roddog on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:56 UTC in reply to "Comment by talaf"
roddog Member since:

I heard that a friends cousin also put a cat in the microwave... Is there any truth to this rumour or is this a urban myth?

What I am trying to say is that your choice of OS or platform should be irrelevant. I use mutt for mail and can just as easily send a text email to a colleague or student that uses Exchange or whatever the windows community uses. This is because the standard is open and anyone can use whatever they want. We should all be striving for open standards, especially in government and eduction as these domains belong to the people.

Reply Score: 7

the future
by ari-free on Fri 16th Jan 2009 01:54 UTC
Member since:

it may seem ridiculous but 50 years from now when content won't work because it was in an unsupported proprietary format, society will suffer from the loss of culture. It reminds me of the scene from the movie Time Machine when HG Wells remarked:

What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams... FOR WHAT? So you can swim and dance and play??

Reply Score: 6

by Bobthearch on Fri 16th Jan 2009 02:40 UTC
Member since:

she bought an operating system for her computer she never heard of...

Why in the hell would she do that???

Her school didn't tell her she needed Windows? That doesn't seem likely.

...she accidentally bought it.

That doesn't seem likely either.

As a result, with no internet and no Microsoft Word, Schubert dropped out of MATC's fall and spring semesters.

Ridiculous. Drop out of college instead of buying Windows and installing it on her laptop? She jacked up her schooling somehow, probably in some way that has nothing to do with computers, and now she's looking for someone/something to blame other than herself.

Schubert's computer came with Open Office, a word processing software package that is compatible with Microsoft Word.

The article is wrong here, it should read MOSTLY compatible. If her professor uses Track Changes or other advanced Word features, it will not be compatible with OpenOffice. Not the last time I checked anyway.

She says she wasn't aware it was compatible.

It would have taken ten seconds to ask someone and find that out.

MATC promised to show her how to save documents in compatible formats so she could enroll in online courses again.

Or she could spend ten minutes on the library computer, or read the Help manual, or ask a friend...

College isn't for everyone. Even fewer are suitable for online college...

Edited 2009-01-16 02:41 UTC

Reply Score: 7

RE: Ugh...
by Dryhte on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:07 UTC in reply to "Ugh..."
Dryhte Member since:

It's ultimately not about this stupid woman at all. It's about the fact that many people are forced to use windows because their school, government or customers require documents in a specific format for no good reason at all.

I myself would have made the step towards Linux for a long time if I could find the following things in Linux: a complete, non crippled SAP gui, something like MS Visio (able to read and edit visio documents), an alternative to Georgia Softworks's telnet/ssh server,...

Actually I will never be able to do all of my work on a linux pc and that pisses me off.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Ugh...
by Bobthearch on Fri 16th Jan 2009 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE: Ugh..."
Bobthearch Member since:

Wherever she goes in the future (different schools, different jobs, different organizations) will have their own computing requirements - applications, hardware specs, operating systems, etc. She needs to learn to adapt and make herself and her computer conform to the set standards and policies, and not expect everyone else to bend over backwards to accommodate her.

That's the lesson in this story that every student should come away with.

Edited 2009-01-16 20:01 UTC

Reply Score: 3

by ebasconp on Fri 16th Jan 2009 03:17 UTC
Member since:

Have you tried to buy a computer that comes with Ubuntu preinstalled?

Try this link:

In the link, Dell explains [with a clear bias towards Windows] what Ubuntu is and says: "if you are not sure, buy Windows"

If the girl did not read all the page and bought a computer with another thing installed, it is not Dell's fault, it's her own fault.

I am going to buy a Dell Ubuntu, maybe I have to hurry up before Dell will drop this product line due to stupid cases like this.

Reply Score: 5

This story is hard to believe
by drcoldfoot on Fri 16th Jan 2009 03:25 UTC
Member since:

Call me a conspiracy Theorist, But since when did your ordinary everyday student choose Ubuntu over Windows in a Microsoft world?

DO you know how hard it is to choose a Linux OS over a Windows OS in Dell's website? You have extremely few choices and the laptop is from thier business offerings and only one Inspiron from their consumer offerings. You can't find a 1100 dollar Dell laptop pushed in front of a comparable Dell Windows Laptop for cheaper.

Dell is primarily a Microsoft Shop also. Just like HP and Acer, etc.

All of a sudden, this ordinary student is on the news?! I smell a rat.

Reply Score: 8

RE: This story is hard to believe
by perspectoff on Fri 16th Jan 2009 17:42 UTC in reply to "This story is hard to believe"
perspectoff Member since:

You hit the nail on the head. This is likely a Microsoft media ploy.

One wonders how much the lady was paid, to take this much ridicule.

Reply Score: 2

All I'm going to say
by factotum218 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 03:37 UTC
Member since:

I am in the same place right now, part time to get my masters in science and engineering so I do a lot of math. Home computers and servers are a hobby for me; something to have fun with.
I am in the same place with the choice of an operating system. I use Arch on an old Dell Latitude P3 as a portable browser and office.

I'm going to leave it here because I cannot justify insulting some one who doesn't know any better. But I will insult her for dropping out of college over it.

Reply Score: 3

This is how you should read this
by Moulinneuf on Fri 16th Jan 2009 04:27 UTC
Member since:

Since they ( The school ) spent so much on Microsoft License they where left with no money to upgrade and have no decent really protected network in 2009.

The truth is the girl Probably siad "I have no money what is the cheapest solution" , this days GNU/Linux is king of the low end by at least a 100$ margins.

The right thing to do is for Dell to lawyer up and menace to sue the school into the ground for damage to it's business and for Ubuntu to do the same.

Leaving the door open for an amicable settlement by letting the school know that Dell and Ubuntu can offer solution for there network problem and that they wont stand still for them to be on the receiving hand of a shady deals and Libel and slandering.

Dell and Ubuntu should also found out who the girl is , if the story is really true and see if they can't help her in some way.

Microsoft is stealing schools budget and this is just more proof of it ...

Reply Score: 4

I think for basic needs ...
by Tuishimi on Fri 16th Jan 2009 05:05 UTC
Member since:

...all computers should be usable, but there are classes that require special software to complete projects and in some cases those will only run on Windows. Not all classes, but some.

Anyway, off to bed, I am clacking away at the keyboard irritating my wife.

Good night, all!

Reply Score: 2

Technical University of Vienna
by panzi on Fri 16th Jan 2009 07:13 UTC
Member since:

At my University there is thankfully Linux used a lot. All PCs of the "Internet-Rooms" (there you can work on connected PCs basically as long as you want) have Linux installed. Linux and LaTeX, gcc and so on. You can *really* work on those PCs. And if something is not installed, you can install it in your $HOME directory. ;)

All laboritory PCs have dualboot Windows/Linux, I think. So far I could use Linux to solve every assignment. There where assignments where one could choose between J2EE and .Net (but maybe .Net would have been the better choice, but thats another story). Only now there is one lecture where we have to use a .Net software. I don't know yet, but maybe it will work with mono. *hopes*

Reply Score: 3

RE: Technical University of Vienna
by coolvibe on Fri 16th Jan 2009 07:34 UTC in reply to "Technical University of Vienna"
coolvibe Member since:

You could be pleasantly surprised about the Mono thing. So far I have been able to run every .NET assembly on Mono that some of my Windows-toting developer collegues created with Visual Studio.

Reply Score: 2

by danieldk on Fri 16th Jan 2009 07:39 UTC
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Just a practical tip: Tom, as a Dutch university your university probably provides eduroam. Ours (RUG) does, and it's relatively easy to set up on OS X and Linux. On Linux you can configure it from network-manager, you just have to know the right settings.

E.g. see:

For both a wpa-supplicant and network-manager configuration. In every instance you'll want to use the 'eduroam' access point, rather than RuG-FN2.

Besides that we have noticed that access is flakier on OS X than Linux. OS X seems to be dropping the connection often, while a Linux laptop could easily use the connection for a whole working day without reauthorizing.

Besides that, I fully agree with your point. These usually even starts at help desks, where they'll only help you if you have a Windows laptop. Though the times seem to be changing due to MacBook popularity.

Edited 2009-01-16 07:41 UTC

Reply Score: 2

I totally agree
by Buck on Fri 16th Jan 2009 08:46 UTC
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Even if it's been already said, I wholeheartedly agree with Thom on that. Can't stress that enough. Especially when it comes to students it's even more important to let them work in the environment they found more suitable and to let them generally explore how different systems work in the process.

Reply Score: 3

Have you heard of Virtualization?
by LarchOye on Fri 16th Jan 2009 08:57 UTC
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If you are still trying to convince yourself (and others) that Windows and Office aren't STANDARD, then what you NEED to do is get yourself some virtualization software that will enable you to run Windows and/or Office.

Quit the blame game, and learn a few things about being 7331.

Your life will only get harder after college.


Reply Score: 1

I don't believe it
by 3rdalbum on Fri 16th Jan 2009 10:21 UTC
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There are a couple of things I don't believe:

1. I don't believe it was a $1,100 notebook. I think it was the Dell Mini 9 - it's probably easier to buy as an Ubuntu machine, and it's more enticing because it's cheaper than a Windows version.

2. I don't believe a Dell rep told her to stay with Ubuntu. I think, given the chance, a Dell rep would be trained to say "Certainly; the difference in price is $100, so here's the address to send the computer and cheque to". (well, he's American - he would have said "check" not "cheque")

Reply Score: 1

RE: I don't believe it
by czubin on Fri 16th Jan 2009 12:09 UTC in reply to "I don't believe it"
czubin Member since:

It was a notebook. Check the video you can see her laptop with no internet connection and her verizon cd.

Reply Score: 2

Forcing students to use LaTeX
by klauthor on Fri 16th Jan 2009 12:31 UTC
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We are forcing our students too! Only slides and reports written in LaTeX with our own style files will be accepted and Word or Powerpoint stuff are always rejected. Actually this is standard at most German computer science departments I have visited.

Reply Score: 2

sort of open source
by unclefester on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:22 UTC
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My university has all windows machines for general access. But they all have StarOffice, Firefox and Mozilla as well as Office and IE. The IT help desks also hands out free copies of StarOffice (windows) to any student.

Reply Score: 2

Free Software, morals and WINE
by yaki on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:58 UTC
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If Microsoft makes a product and decides not to make the code public, and only sell it to you if you agree not to give it to other people, that's their right. Nothing wrong about that. They're not infringing on your freedom, taking your property or harming you in any other way. You don't have to use their product.

For instance, I don't agree with DRM, so I buy my music from Magnatune, making sure the artists get a cut and then having music under an open license. Sure, I can't buy most popular music there, but then I can always get a CD. DRM is not a moral issue, it's just a stupid business choice on the part of the record labels.

Now, if your job or your school requires you to buy a Microsoft product then the problem is not choice in products, but choice in schools. In a truly free market, you would surely be able to find a school that allows you to use whatever software you want based on an open standard, because that makes students' lives cheaper and therefore draws more costumers for the school.

Also, just use WINE. Office 2003 runs just fine on it, it's legal and doesn't really slow you down.
And of course OpenOffice supports most Word documents just fine.

Edited 2009-01-16 14:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by daedalus8
by daedalus8 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 15:29 UTC
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I believe that the fight of supporting all kinds of different operating systems is a bit absurd. The problem with doing this is that there is just too many different operating systems out there.

I believe that the push should NOT be for supporting a variety of OSes but rather supporting open standards, this way different OSes could take advantage of it. The more they support closed standards at the educational level, the harder it is for open standards to make a dent in how things are run.

I am a BSD and Linux user at home but at work I am forced to use Windows for the plain reason that I need to have my laptop encrypted and corporate policy is to use a certain application to do this (SafeBoot) and nothing else. I had to uninstall my Gentoo and put Windows back even though I proved that the computer was encrypted. This happens everywhere and with other types of software too!

Also, a University runs as a business as well, so if you get a discount on a product that will have official support from the manufacturer, it would make sense from a business standpoint, to go ahead and roll out that product to the whole "corporation". Although this is something that does not benefit the IT community it does benefit business because a standard is set (even though is not the right standard) and this makes it easier for business to focus on the actual business rather than supporting zillions of tools (this goes back to open standards).

That's my 2 cents. ;)

Reply Score: 1

Open standards
by cjg700 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 16:43 UTC
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Open standards are not a panacea. Having used Linux, Solaris, and Windows at home, it's the Microsoft formats and protocols, oddly enough, that provide me the most interoperability.

I was using ODF for an important document, but I wanted to use Gnumeric to work with it (OpenOffice is too bloated for my taste). Gnumeric does not support ODF very well, despite the fact that ODF is more open. I therefore use the XLS format instead-- well supported by Gnumeric and OpenOffice (on any supported OS), and MS Office. It doesn't matter how open a standard is if the developers of the software you want to use do not make supporting the standard a priority. (I'm not a coder, by the way, so I can't help with Gnumeric's deficiencies.)

The same goes for filesystems. I use NTFS and SMB for my file storage & transfer because, via NTFS-3G or Samba, it is well supported by all the operating systems I want to use.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Open standards
by mkone on Sun 18th Jan 2009 01:48 UTC in reply to "Open standards"
mkone Member since:

It's an interesting chicken and egg situation. The truth is both Gnumeric and would not be nearly as successful if they did not support Microsoft's spreadsheet format. Nothing one can do about that. Which is why forcing use of open formats by legal means can level the playing field.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Hae-Yu
by Hae-Yu on Fri 16th Jan 2009 17:14 UTC
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To chime in on the original topic, I just completed my degree and have extensive first-hand experience with this.

I have to agree with those who state that the university cannot possibly support all configurations, nor should they be obliged to support every possible configuration. The administrative overhead, training for adminstrative support staff and so on would be unreasonable. It is difficult enough as it is to support a standard.

Just getting interoperability between Office 2000, 2003 and 2007 could be a pain when working on complex, team-generated documents and ppt presentations, let alone Pages or OO. Those who override those concerns (such as today's Forrester post) absolutely do not work on collaborative documents with different word processors. Even when everybody uses the same program, different custom settings can present issues.

The university has to make a decision on these platforms so that students, faculty, and support can interoperate. If you choose to use a non-standard platform, the burden is on YOU to work yourself in and not be a burden on the support staff, faculty, and fellow students.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Hae-Yu
by Alleister on Fri 16th Jan 2009 17:31 UTC in reply to "Comment by Hae-Yu"
Alleister Member since:

The choice that administration makes should be a reasonable one. Choosing a standard that is expensive and incompatible between its own versions like MS Office when there is a free alternative that is more compatible to MS Documents then even MS Office itself like OOo then that wasn't a very good choice.

There is no need to decide on a platform if you decide on real standards. No matter if it is Text, Video, Audio, Presentations or Networking, there are standards that work on all of the major platforms.

Reply Score: 4

Poor excuse
by Alleister on Fri 16th Jan 2009 17:18 UTC
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That looks to me more like an attempt to find an excuse for her why she failed class. I have seen plenty of that type at my university.
The fact that she ran straight to a tv station indicates to me that she hoped she would get some extra treatment, like not receiving a bad score for those classes.

There would have been plenty of ways to find a solution for her problems including the possibility to ask one of the students with average intelligence for help.

Reply Score: 4

Member since:

So the TV station "followed up" by interviewing an "IT expert" at UW-Madison, who said "Ubuntu is for tinkerers."

But, as has been mentioned in this thread, many university "gurus" have never used Linux -- only Windows or Mac, depending on their long-time allegiance and some purchasing agents whim.

My local community college is mostly Windows based, but the Linux department is growing logarithmically and is reaching out to the community to help small business establish themselves using Ubuntu.

Both Windows and Linux require "tinkering" -- no computer system is perfect.

Those who choose to avoid "tinkering" are among the 80-90% of Windows computers infected by a virus or trojan or other malware.

I'll give you 1000 to 1 odds that the woman in the story, if she ever does purchase a computer, will be hit by malware within the first month of her starting to use the system (if she is able to use it at all -- after all, she has to purchase Windows Vista on a new computer right now).

Reply Score: 2

It took her two semesters?!
by MaxKlokan on Fri 16th Jan 2009 21:08 UTC
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It took her two semesters to figure out that she could not work with the PC?

Reply Score: 1

The problem with Linux Users
by xk2600 on Sat 17th Jan 2009 01:56 UTC
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Look the reality is, work gets done on Windows. There a lot of people that dabble in Linux, and even convert completely. I personally am writing this from a Thinkpad T43P with FreeBSD. Regardless of whether any user can learn to use alternative Operating Systems, its not the norm, and deviating from the norm when it comes to those who just use the machine as an interface to get work done. It is silly to waste peoples time by forcing them to learn something thats negligible in their job, especially if its outside of the norm.

I work in education at an institution with over 20 thousand students and hundreds of staff and faculty. We have a steadily larger group of people pushing alternative operating systems. Unfortunately, this has caused more problems than not. While it is nice saving students and faculty money, those that end up jumping ship just end up complaining about simple things they cant do that prevent them from being able to do their job. Even the jump from Windows to Mac is significant.

I firmly believe that people that want and are willing to learn Mac, Linux, Unix, etc should take the opportunity. But as far as forcing or trying to drag people over to the other side, I just think it is a bad idea. No matter how cool it would be for the world to not have to run on Microsoft or for Linux, Unix, or Mac to take up a bigger chunk of the pie, we cant deviate from the reality that what people want is to function without having to reallly struggle making the tool do what they want. Beyond that, we as administrators have to support them, which just wastes the institutions money. The more the deviation from the norm the more time, difficulty, and expensive to manage.

Reply Score: 1

Dell to blame
by trenchsol on Sat 17th Jan 2009 03:09 UTC
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I've read that lady wanted to exchange her notebook to one with Windows, and that there was a way to do it, but Dell customer service employee talked her not to do it, because HE likes Ubuntu. It was very stupid thing to do.

She probably attended some computer course where she learned one of possible hundred ways to do her job, and that one involved Microsoft Windows. She is, most likely, interested in computer itself as much as person having breakfast is interested in toaster internals. She just wanted to get the job done.

If she attended some Linux based course, she would, probably, be equally confused with Windows notebook.

The times when computers were used by people who are interested in them are over. Today almost everyone MUST use computer to make living, so don't make their life harder.

Reply Score: 2

Member since:

The time has come for Governments & Entire School Systems to Demand and support Open Formats!!

This type of government support has already been implemented in other countries, why is America so far behind? See for yourself search Google with these search terms(omit the if you like): "open document"

Some independent researchers did a study of the "interoperability" for BOTH OOXML and ODF open document formats. The conclusion for the research paper states: "The results(from the study) clearly indicate that both ODF and OOXML implementations need to improve interoperability." and furthermore, "Supporters of both ODF and OOXML have suggested improved conformance and interoperability testing, there has been little progress on this front. Governments and other interested organizations need to encourage this testing. Without more pressure and funding for testing, the promise of ODF and OOXML will be lost."
See the paper entitled "Lost in Translation: Interoperability Issues for Open Standards - ODF and OOXML as Examples ", by Rajiv C. Shah University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Communication, and Jay P. Kesan University of Illinois - College of Law"
The Proceedings of the 36th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), Arlington, VA, Sept. 26-28, 2008
online URL:

So we have Open Document formats, but what we don't have is a set of applications that work consistently with the standards across different platforms.

So here's my ideas to fix the problem(not that I'm the first to come up with them or anything):

1.) Have the professors be flexible in accepting a range of different formats, with the following stipulation: The students have to indicate on a form at the beginning of a course which document format(and specific program) they intend to use for the whole course. This way, the instructor can know what to expect and prepare for it, and then the document exchange could take place and there would then be no surprises.

2.) Until the standards situation is improved, and since it is most widely available, allow students to submit documents using the widely used MS-Office2003 formats. OpenOffice, Google Docs, and MS Office can save to these "de facto" standards of .xls, .ppt, .doc. The biggest problem with this method is that the documents are locked into a proprietary format. However, since there are a number of programs that support these proprietary formats(including non Microsoft products, and free software), the formats really aren't "restricted" from anyone being able to use them.

3.)(my favorite, and I think this method is already widely used anyway) Require all work to be in PDF format. PDF is an open standard that was officially published on July 1, 2008 by the ISO as ISO 32000-1:2008. The benefit of this method is that the student can author the document in a selected application on their preferred platform, and then export the document to PDF format. MS-Office2007, OpenOffice, and Google docs all let you author documents and then export them to PDF format.

4.) Any combination of the first 3 methods (with emphasis on #3 because I really like it).

At any rate, because of the possible abuse of a person's freedoms by the provider of a computer Operating System, we must not let instructors be able to dictate what type of Operating Systems students are to use for a course. It is an inalienable right for a student to have the choice to NOT support a company with their money if the student does not support the ethical business practices of the said company.

Shannon VanWagner

Edited 2009-01-17 08:19 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Bah Humbug
by jmchaffie on Sat 17th Jan 2009 13:10 UTC
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I have been in the IT dept. for a medical university for several years.

Severs: Novell, Windows, Solaris, Linux, and some weird half-breed for the library cross-reference system that I just leave the heck alone! ;)

Every single system on campus for labs, Drs. Faculty, etc? ALL Windows. Why? It isn't because the budget, and it isn't because we have some deal with MicroSloth either - it's because that's what 90% of incoming students, faculty, and other staff know.

All the other students that have macs or linux laptops / personal PCs - we do our best to support them. Usually we can by doing some research, etc. since we use standard wireless access points in lounge areas and hey - unless you have serious issues with your IT dept., all over campus the in house network an ethernet jack should be an ethernet jack. plug and play that's it.

Software? Yeah that's the big PIA for the non-windows user, because there is a lot of weird, flaky, and OLD med software that is windows only. Most of the Linux kids can get it working under Wine, for whatever reason the Mac Windows emulation is crap for the older stuff. So we just have to tell them to use the labs and make the most of their time.

My opinion of this whole story is yes... Universities should try to cater a bit more to various OS / Software. To what degree can they and keep their sanity? It's debatable when you're a small department taking care of HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of people non-stop. Once you're done with this years roll out- you're starting on next years. It's insane. ;)

I think this chick just needed a way out of having screwed up her initial course structure personally, but aside from that there have been some good points made here.

Best to you all

Reply Score: 1

What disgusts me...
by darknexus on Sun 18th Jan 2009 09:26 UTC
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is the response to this story by the Ubuntu fanboys. Honestly, I think most of them have surpassed the Mac fanboys in zeal and hate. Come to think of it, I don't see many hateful Mac fans--smug, perhaps, but not hate filled like some of the responses this girl got. I don't mean to say all Ubuntu users are fanboys or fangirls (I use the term fanboy or fangirl as an insult), but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I'm not demeaning Ubuntu--I use it, along with OpenSUSE, OpenBSD, Arch, OS X, and Windows--but I don't understand what about it has attracted these twelve-year-old idiots that flame someone because she wasn't familiar with it. This is hardly an isolated case, but probably the most well-publicized one at the moment
I agree that this probably wasn't handled correctly, and there may have been more behind getting TV publicity. I'm not in a position to say that, however, and simply suspecting isn't the same as prooving.
More harm has been done to the image of Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular, by this story. But the reporters weren't the cause. The young lady isn't the cause. Fanboys, STFU! You are doing more harm and not a bit of good, and giving Ubuntu the negative image you are trying to avoid. You won't increase mainstream acceptance of Linux by acting like a bunch of spoiled, hateful brats screaming that life's not fair.
Ok, I'm done now.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What disgusts me...
by perspectoff on Sun 18th Jan 2009 15:30 UTC in reply to "What disgusts me..."
perspectoff Member since:

If she had said the same thing about Mac OS X, you would have seen the Mac fanbois do the same thing. Or Red Beanie Linux, or Suffering Succotash Linux, or whatever.

You're just jealous because Ubuntu was on her Dell, not Suse.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What disgusts me...
by zelrik on Sun 18th Jan 2009 15:55 UTC in reply to "What disgusts me..."
zelrik Member since:

I am not worried about the image of ubuntu. Even bad publicity is good publicity. Look at MS and all the haters behind them, still 90% share.

Reply Score: 1