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RE: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]

From: Chris Puttick
Subject: RE: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2002 16:44:43 +0100


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Smedley
To: address@hidden
Sent: 23/04/2002 16:06
Subject: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]

Ah, that reply-to nonsense :-)

Richard Smedley wrote:
> > Chris Puttick wrote:
> >

> > The result is that when at some point in the conversation I suggest
> > looking at alternatives to MS and saving tens of thousands of pounds
> > the process, they listen to me. I throw in a few big names they
> > know (IBM/SuSE partnership, Sun, Borland) and suddenly they're
agreeing to
> > adopt StarOffice and try out thin client and maybe making the open
> > room (just web and office applications) pure Linux. School
management can
> > add up, they just need to be shown. In fact, to be honest, they need
> > selling to. But it has to be by someone they accept as an expert.
> > Preferably someone they know is expensive to talk to.
> I'm very interested in how this can be sold
> to individual schools from the 'outside'. Most
> of the schools that I know of using Free
> Software do so because of one dedicated individual
> on the staff. Without that person the schools
> would be running propritary alternatives.
> Many of us have come to the conclusion that
> schools will only move to Free Software when
> they are told to do so by DfEE/ becta/ nesta/
> (possibly) LEAs - so I am very interested to
> read your comments above.

From the outside, with no commercial interest, no connection with the school? Very difficult. Positive articles published in TES and the Guardian equivalent, access to approved training, persuading the DfES, helping BECTa to understand the benefits; all these would be useful. But... (and there's always a but) the ones who've adopted the common attitude of using senior teachers to manage their IT (normally using the term ICT, thanks to DfES), you'll have problem.

Similar situation in industry a few years back, where the IT Manager/Director was a manager before they became IT, and the only abbreviation they knew and understood was CYA and any big brand name was automatically a good solution (quote "no one was ever fired for buying <insert big brand name here>"), or at worst a defensible solution.

Schools in the UK are a few steps behind industry, hence the common lack of connectivity, or dire connnectivity. And hence their addiction to big brand names.

And that leads me to a solution... Make Open Source and Linux a big brand name. I understand strictly we're talking about Free Software and GNU/Linux, but at risk of flames, keeping it simple and understandable will get the cause a lot further. And try to avoid the free word without explaining who it has cost. Give them small things that work well first e.g. we have a remote shutdown utility for Windows 9x/NT and a program that dynamically changes the Win desktop settings (9x/NT/2k) to improve access for visually impaired children.

StarOffice implementation makes moving to Linux easier. Dual boot setups let the more technically able have a go with alternatives. But to persuade them, branding will be everything.

> > This is the approach that is needed. Make it feel professional,
> > and complete. Be ready for the arguments with quietly reasoned
> > And the arguments are very standardised. Possibly documentable, but
> > not sure of the impact in that medium.
> We could also, perhaps, do with some accurate
> information about where, below government level,
> the decisions are made.
> When last I spoke to a school directly on this
> they had the authority to make decisions but
> would only do what becta guided them to do.
> (which was "Be Tony's friend - use MS" ;-/  )
> - Richard
> --
> Richard Smedley
> Production Editor, Linux Format
> Telephone +44 (0) 1225 442244 ext 5038


Richard Smedley
Production Editor, Linux Format

Telephone +44 (0) 1225 442244 ext 5038

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