Microsoft Encroaching on Spanish Schools... Again
Microsoft had lost the single Windows booting option in school computers in Spain some time ago. But now they are getting back: The Spanish Government announced in a surprising move that an agreement with Microsoft has been signed to give out laptops to primary schoolchildren next year.
Having lost the single Windows booting option in all regions in Spain and having been ditched in most regions where single boot machines with GNU/Linux over the proposed dual Window/Linux booting is prefered, the people from Redmond have decided to move business into the place where things usually work out best for them: the back room.
Just last Thursday, Eva Almunia, the Microsoft advocate in the Spanish Education Ministry, held a surprise press conference where she signed an agreement with Microsoft's María Garaña, to all effects selling off the software real estate of the first 4000 laptops (of a total of 400.000) to be given out to primary schoolchildren next year.
The first regions to "benefit" from this offer will be the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the only two areas that are under direct government control in educational matters, but other regions "will be able to sign up for the offer later on", according to Almunia.
The general reaction amongst open source activists and organisations has been "But... we thought we had this one sorted" and everybody concerned is understandably miffed by the whole affair. ASOLIF, the Association of Spanish Free Software Enterprises, has sent a letter to the minister with a four point statement explaining why this agreement is wrong and requesting a meeting so he can explain why his team favours Microsoft time and time again over Spanish companies.
Jose María Lancho, president of HispaLinux, has stated to Público newspaper that the agreement "puts free competition in jeopardy" and reminded the minister that the agreement breaks the law on several counts, including article 49 of the law for Public Sector Contracts that forbids hiring companies which "have been fined due to serious infringements with regards to market discipline matters" - Microsoft has been fined several times in Europe for those exact same reason.
Command line tool is an extraDavid Stephens,
>> To prove my point
>> You know what all of these articles have in common? Yep, you guessed it, you have to open a terminal and issue commands. I dunno, maybe I am missing something. All I know is that in the 4 years that I have been using the iMac I have never opened a terminal window.
First of all, I don't know what the problem is with typing a few words and following some instructions. Yes, it's not ideal, but it's not as if any admin managing for a school couldn't read the instructions carefully and do it once for the students.
Of course, most things where you can use the command line, it's to achieve an effect quicker, achieve an effect you can't do in Windows clickety anyway, or is for expert users and won't affect most people.
To "prove" my point...
The first link above is not something anyone has to do, but it helps that person remove what they might find to be a particular annoyance. This would be called a bug by such a person, and at least there is a work-around (which happens to leverages the command line facilities in Linux).
There is also supposedly a way to do this from a GUI form, but according to what I read (skimmed), it might not yet be working in Ubuntu. In a few months, Ubuntu might have this GUI option ready (if it doesn't already).
Finally, technically, you don't use a command line. You use an editor to edit a file by adding something that will get run on the command line for you automatically. [Yes, this is a technicality, but point is that we are simply typing something. You are told what to type to achieve an improvement in your computing experience.]
Of course, the easiest way to deal with this particular annoyance would simply be to press the numlock button with your finger manually whenever you want to use the keypad on the keyboard for numbers and not for movements of the cursor on a text file AND should you have found that numlock was not already set.
This is a "annoyance" bug and has a perfectly normal manual solution that doesn't involve typing anything (if a little annoying perhaps to do this from time to time instead of just once). Many people may not even use the number pad or don't mind pressing the numlock (and hence would not be affected).
The second link is for expert users to gain access to something that won't impact most people at all ever or at least not until they have gained some confidence.
Remember that the command line is an enabler. Frequently, it allows you to do things in Linux that you can't do (the equivalent) on Windows or only by going through more trouble on Windows.
The third link is about gaining early access to a bleeding edge version of a particular product. Again, this is for advanced/ambitious users. All others will simply wait for the binaries to be installable later on. Linux users have this option: they can gain faster access to FOSS applications many times that can Windows users. In exchange, we sometimes have to use the command line. This is an option. Most people like having an extra option in case they are in the mood to try something new. Don't like it, ignore it. No harm done.
The fourth link is about doing an extra backup just in case the backup your webhost company does fails. This is surely for expert users since most noobs don't maintain a website in the first place, and those that do either already have a backup or simply trust the host company.
The fifth link is actually something that seems risky. It's meant as a short-cut. I know how to write my own scripts when I need them, but I would hesitate to use what I read (skimmed) in that article. In short, I don't recommend people do that. They can't attempt that "short-cut" easily on Windows, and on Linux, they should just do things the safe and manual way as they would on Windows, even if it takes longer to do every now and them when you do spring cleaning of your computer files. Scripting to automate the potential deletion of things that perhaps you created or not is a risky maneuver that I would not recommend be done by anyone unless you are already comfortable with the command line commands.
In short, the fifth link is for expert users and potentially adds a capability to Linux expert users that Windows expert users would lack or find more difficult to do and that noob users (Linux or Windows) don't need to do.
The command line interface (CLI) frequently allows the expert user to do things you couldn't otherwise do or do easily (eg, on Windows). It also allows the noob a way to try to fix a problem without automatically having to pay someone to do it for them. Do-it-yourself is something that many people like having as an option even if they don't take advantage of it.
Yes, Linux can and will continue to be improved, and, yes, sometimes Windows allows something to be done in an easier fashion than can be done in Linux. No, the CLI is not something to worry about if you want to use Linux. Oftentimes, it's there for advanced users to avoid paying someone $$$ to do it for them (as would likely be the case on Windows). Windows do-it-yourself usually gets uglier than the Linux version. This is where Linux shines, it's fine for noobs (in comparison to Windows), but it is great for advanced users (in comparison to Windows).
Hope it's clear that I "proved" my point (and "disproved" yours).
FLOSS as an Educational ToolMay I just note here to the MS apologists that free software is exactly that: free as in take it and use it for whatever you want. Anyone (even Microsoft) can put forward their own distro to go on these laptops. That's free, balanced-field, market for you, that allows third party auditing (something impossible with closed source software), while avoiding vendor lock-in.
Also, as a teacher for twenty years, I wouldn't suggest anyone use conventional desktop and office software in schools on any platform for primary students. These are terrible teaching tools, since they are not teaching tools at all. In my opinión, something along the lines of Sugar (http://www.sugarlabs.org/) is the way to go.
And what is it with "Windows" as the only alternative to free software? How come this lady doesn't invite Apple and their MacOS X to the Ministry to see what they have to offer? She sure has a weird idea of what technological neutrality means.
And finally, the idea that because "everybody uses it, it must be taught", apart from false (heterogenuous environments windows/mac/linux are the norm nowadays), quickly leads to serious dillemas when applied to anything outside the realm of software: maybe she should invite Coca-Cola to the ministry and sign an agreement in which they get rid of the water, milk and fruit juice in school canteens because, after all, Coke is the most drunk beverage in the world.
Not suprisedI'm not too surprised, after all microsoft's goal is to reach 100% of its potential users.
I'm pretty sure the same goal would like to be reached by the FOSS community too,
however FOSS and microsoft can't both have 100% of what they want, and microsoft knows
it, that's why they campaign harder and longer and give people better (perceived?) deals to
achieve that end.
So a contract / deal was signed with microsoft, and the FOSS community is up in arms.
But if no deal was actually signed between the FOSS community and these schools then why
did they stop working on it? Did people actually think that given microsoft's history and it's goals
that it would allow it? Remember you can't share the target market with someone who wants all of it.
I appologizeI am sorry, my last comment was for BillH and steve.
CLI, and my kids being forced to use FOSS@BillH
I use Ubuntu and OpenSolaris as my primary OSes of choice. They are ran in VirtualBox on my iMac. To say that the use of CLI is a thing of the past is ludacrus. I have to pop open a termianl window at least a few times a week.
To prove my point, I went and looked at the current articles on ubuntulinuxhelp.com, here are some of those articles:
You know what all of these articles have in common? Yep, you guessed it, you have to open a terminal and issue commands. I dunno, maybe I am missing something. All I know is that in the 4 years that I have been using the iMac I have never opened a terminal window.
As far as my comment about suing the government, let me ask you a question. If you were a citizen of Spain and they only taught your children Swahili and not Spanish, would that make you upset? Why should these kids be taught to use software that they have an extraordinary high chance of never seeing again in the real world? Of course the only reason is to inculcate them into the FOSS religion.
Don't get me wrong, I don't use any product from Microsoft but I made that decision of my own free will, not because I had been indoctrinated into a culture of Microsoft hating. All I am saying is that the competition needs to be in features, ease of use, functionality, but not in the courts!
Linux, Microsoft, and EuropeFirst, I cant believe some one actually said we always have to drop down to CLI in Linux. I rarely have to drop down in to the CLI and when I do its by choice. My 11 year old daughter runs linux by choice and she does not drop down into CLI. Second, it does seem foul play is involved and that needs to be looked into, and I glad the there are people standing up for what they believe in. Way to go!!!
Did You Read the Article?David Stephens, did you read the article? There is no sense of entitlement by the FOSS community in Spain. The last paragraph states "article 49 of the law for Public Sector Contracts that forbids hiring companies which "have been fined due to serious infringements with regards to market discipline matters" - Microsoft has been fined several times in Europe for those exact same reason." Did you conveniently skip that paragraph? They can't legally hire MS because of past serious infringements.
You state "If Microsoft wants to go after the education market in Spain, then so be it." and I agree. However, since MS has broken the EU law in the past, that SHOULD exclude them from consideration by law.
You also state "To be honest, if I lived in Spain I would sue the government if they went strictly FOSS, they would be hindering the education of my children on software that is used by the vast majority of the world, in business and outside of business."... what the???? It amazes me that people still think this way. You can only learn MS software? Your you can only learn FOSS? Why can't you learn both?
You also said "If you want to win then make better tools, and having to always use CLI to do anything is not the world's definition of better tools. if it was then the world would be using Linux or BSD." Hello? Hello? David, 1997 is calling and they want their anti-*nix argument back. Get with the times - the CLI is rarely used (I use it more in Windows than I do in Linux) in *nix today.
Just how did FOSS get the entitlement?I don't understand why the FOSS community feels like it is entitled to have the education market while barring Microsoft from it?
That is the problem with socialism is that it inculcates the entitlement mentality, and yes I am saying that FOSS is software socialism. The FOSS movement is not owed anything. If Microsoft wants to go after the education market in Spain, then so be it. They should not be barred because of the trumped up moral superiority complex of the FOSS movement.
To be honest, if I lived in Spain I would sue the government if they went strictly FOSS, they would be hindering the education of my children on software that is used by the vast majority of the world, in business and outside of business.
If you want to win then make better tools, and having to always use CLI to do anything is not the world's definition of better tools. if it was then the world would be using Linux or BSD. Yes I did not say GNU/Linux, so take that RMS!
Nothing surprising...Each country's free software advocates must be ready for things like that. MS will never stop pushing and paying governments and individuals with power, to achieve their goals. The adoption of Linux in schools is the start of the end for MS in Europe, so they will keep pressing and pressing and pressing.
Never relax despite possible laws and agreemnts. Money can change these in a matter of time.
Microsof and Spanish SchoolsCorruption in Europe will not be tolerated. This has all the hall marks of Corruption. Knowing Europe the way I do, this will finish up in the European Courts, I would not bank on MS supplying these laptops next year, Spain gets it education funding through the European Government like every other European country. It has to abide by the European Laws Someone head in the Spanish Government will roll over this,
Microsoft. Intel, IBM have all felt European justice and paid hefty multi million dollar fines, Other USA companies are in the process of appearing in European Courts on Anti Trust and corruption charges.
New flaw in an old encryption scheme leaves the experts scrambling to disable SSL 3
Lennart Poettering wants to change the way Linux developers talk to each other.
Enterprise giant frees itself from ink and home PCs (and visa versa).
Mozilla’s product think tank sinks silently into history.
TODO group will focus on open source tools in large-scale environments.
New tool will look like GParted but support a wider range of storage technologies.
New public key pinning feature will help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
Carnegie Mellon researchers say 3 million pages could fall down the phishing hole in the next year.
The US government rolls new best-practice rules for protecting SSH.