Practical Technology

for practical people.

Save a job with open source

I can talk until I’m blue in my space about the technical advantages of Linux and open-source software. Forget about that for now though. Let me give you a reason for your office to use them that may strike home: It can save jobs, including, just maybe, your job.

This simple fact was brought home to me over the weekend when I was at the SouthEast Linux Fest at Clemson University. There, I saw Chad Wollenberg, a network administrator who focuses on the integration of free and open technologies in education. The point of his talk was really quite simple: “Why should our school systems be paying for proprietary software when teachers are being laid off?”

Good question. My own home county of Buncombe in western North Carolina will be letting about 80 teachers go with the current budget. Like many other government agencies, and businesses, they simply don’t have enough money coming in.

But, Wollenberg asks, why don’t we save money for teachers, by switching to FOSS (free and open-source software), he’s not talking about major changes, like switching from Linux to Windows on desktops. He’s talking about taking small steps. As Wollenberg points out, it’s not so much that the school systems have problems with open source; it’s that they’re reluctant to adopt anything new.

Instead of big scary changes, he suggests that you should try to get school systems to start with end-user programs like Firefox, OpenOffice, and Moodle, open-source course management software. The argument you should use to encourage administration to make these changes is simple economics.

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