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RE: [Fsfe-uk] Explaining GPL to a Windows user

From: ian
Subject: RE: [Fsfe-uk] Explaining GPL to a Windows user
Date: 09 Jun 2003 08:45:39 +0100

On Sun, 2003-06-08 at 22:55, Andrew Atkinson wrote:
> Ian wrote
> >
> > I should think your £325 with Windows 95 is pretty similar to my bare
> > machine at £300. You can't buy a PC from PC World or the high street
> > with anything other than XP. XP Pro if you want networking costs about
> > 80 odd quid from the distributors to OEM. The MS official line is that
> > you can't legally buy Win '95 but there are copies floating about. The
> > thing is you can't compare prices for PCs bought for a school operating
> > schools agreement
> >
> Yes I agree it is similar, that was the point, a network ready PC for about
> the same cost, this is the part you have to beat to move into schools, 

Not if we aren't generally supplying a fat client. That isn't how to get
desktop GNU/Linux into schools.

> as
> they don't goto PCW (not is they have any sense). Thin client looks like the
> way in from what you have said, but at the moment the machines I am buying
> tend to be unreliable after 4 years and I can only get a bit off by reducing
> the spec on the machines I buy.

Well there's a difference. Can't see why a machine should become
unreliable after 4 years if it has a decent motherboard. Mind hard
drives in general are getting less reliable as they fight for higher
density so warranties are shorter on them. With a thin client you don't
need a hard drive and even a fat client network machine doesn't need 40+
gig. We can supply second hand base units free, so stick them out of the
way and use the savings to buy a nice LCD monitor. If the base unit
breaks throw it away and we'll send you another one. All you do is plug
it into the network and it works, no disc cloning or pratting about with
scan disc if a kid just switches the machine off at the mains. My point
is that the savings on software, hardware and support time overall are
big. Its not just the operating system.

> I don't think that you will convince schools on the initial cost argument,
> you will have to convince the powers that it is a better product and will
> save money long term.

All I can say is that I *have* convinced schools on the cost
argument.Maybe not yours but I have another 24,000 out there and I only
need a few to start with. Its the reason we have as many desktops out
there as we have. East Hull CLC told me that the overall savings on
their installation amounted to £75,000 and they went out to tender and
did all the value for money checks. Its why it makes me smile when BECTa
say they need some elaborate research on TCO. TCO is a marketing issue
and I am as free to use it for my purposes as M$ are for theirs.

If you actually do some tender exercises (reminds me I told the OFT I
would do one for them to illustrate the point) using generic outcomes ie
I want to be able to word process, browse the Internet etc you find the
quotes from other suppliers are all Windows and MS Office based and are
typically double the cost of a quote we would supply for a GNU/Linux
based thin client solution. Most schools are not on MSSA so they pay for
XP Pro OEM on each machine for a start. Then there is anti-virus
software, MS Office, Server software, Server hardware (usually much more
expensive), remote management services and warranty etc etc. We
virtually never sell one PC to a school. We also have never sold a
GNU/Linux system to a school on MSSA which is why the OFT action is
important to put a stop to more schools going down this route.

Its actually very difficult to sell to schools the idea that free
software is better qualitatively. I can do that after I get in but to
quote on Deputy Head "You just used that 4 letter word I like - Free"
and he meant as in free beer. These people don't understand all the
philosophical stuff and to be frank they aren't going to sit down and
listen to it. The message is too complex for marketing - you would need
a billion pound TV advertising campaign media magazines etc to educate
people quickly enough. Not ideal, but that's the way it is. The strategy
is to get a growing number of highly visible desktops by whatever means
into schools and make it a bit of a technological status symbol so
others want it too. Get as much free publicity as possible and put some
effort back into key applications. 
ian <address@hidden>

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