Convincing a school district to migrate from OS X to Ubuntu or Edubuntu

David McNally david3333333 at
Wed Nov 19 02:23:21 UTC 2008

Hi everyone:

It's been about 24 hours since I first put up this post, so I wanted to
reply to everyone who's replied to my original post.

First, I'll answer the message from Allen Meyers:
I know that it is weird to see Macs that often, and in fact, I rarely see
them outside of my school. But, indeed, if you go to the school district's
web site,, you'll see a picture of several iMacs in the library.
When you go to the web site, you'll see some fading pictures that change. On
the left side, you'll see a picture of the front doors of one of the
schools, and then it will fade into a picture of several iMacs. Their
screens are off, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that they run OS
X Leopard.

I agree with you, not only on the fact that food service in schools would be
better served by Linux, but, rather, that everything in schools would be
better served by Linux. Of course, lunch is an important part of the school
day all around the world, and would function more properly if it were
running on Linux, but it's not the only part (I know that you said that, I'm
just agreeing with you). If schools were able to run everything on Linux,
everything would work smoother, considering the smoothness that Linux

I have, however, noticed that Microsoft and Apple do better at making sure
that the computer works rather well than the Linux community. It's harder to
explain this than most things explained on this forum, but I've noticed
problems with Linux that would never happen with an operating system that
came from Redmond or Cupertino. For example, I've noticed that I've gotten
error messages with occasional typographicalr errors. While this isn't so
important, it's the kind of thing that would set a very bad first impression
on people new to Linux, especially educators. In fact, it's even annoyed me,
a person with lots of patience for open-source software. I'm sure that
Microsoft or Apple would make sure that there are no typos in anything that
they make, even if the actual software isn't very good.

There are similar problems that I've found in Linux. Obviously, I still
think that Ubuntu would beat Windows or OS X any day, but it's not perfect,
and it never will be. It still has many more advantages than Windows or OS

Next, I want to respond to Paige Thompson's and Clifford Ilkay's replies:
It seems that Clifford felt that I shouldn't refer to these people as 'rich
idiots'. While it is somewhat true, I do see quite a bit of truth in the
fact that people will do what you want if you treat them with more respect.

On the other hand, Paige pointed out that "that's just exactly the kind of
mentality that has held Ubuntu back". I agree with that statement more than
Clifford's, although Clifford does have a good point. I think that 'rich
idiots' was, indeed, a little harsh, but I think that they should be
recommended to switch very strongly.

I'd also like to mention that this school has no difficulty buying software,
but, that doesn't mean that it should spend so much money on software when
it could be spent on better teachers or newer textbooks or better food or
something else productive. I agree with Paige on this one again: moving away
from software that a school can't afford (or can, but shouldn't) is always a
good idea.

In the last 24 hours, since I wrote the first message on this post, I
decided to look more carefully at what software this school has. I didn't
notice much that I didn't already know, but I did notice that nearly every
computer has Firefox on it, and it wasn't installed by IT. It was installed
by teachers, who wanted to move from Safari to Firefox after a few teachers
pointed out that they were already using Firefox at home for some reason
(their spouce or children recommended it to them, usually).

No one uses OpenOffice. Instead, we get to use the worst productivity suite
ever: MS Office 2008. I wonder how IT didn't figure this one out yet. The
teachers who teach computer classes have to re-learn how to use Office
because everything's been rearranged because of that stupid ribbon.
OpenOffice would be a much better idea, so I'll have to see what I can do.

Clifford has pointed out that he has already gotten students using Linux.
This comes as a total shock to me, as I've always gone to school to Macs. I
still remember using very old versions of the Macintosh OS (definately
pre-OS X) back in kindergarten, and up into the first few years of
elementary school.

Clifford then pointed out how much work it has taken to move his school to
using just a few Linux machines and mostly Windows machines. If this will
need such dedication from everyone involved, then moving this school, which
has been on Macintosh since before I was born, will be more work than most
schools. People here are also very stubborn, especially IT.

There's no question that Ubuntu would be able to work on these computers.
While some of them are old, they're still new enough to run Ubuntu. The
school has big metal carts that hold about 30 notebooks (these carts are
called 'COWs', short for 'Computers On Wheels'), which are usually filled
with rather new notebooks, but only because the notebooks are the first
things to fall apart, with keys falling out and plastic casing coming off.
Such new notebooks would be able to run Ubuntu quite well. The desktops here
are also quite good, though, because the school tries to spend more money on
the desktops, knowing that they will die long after a notebook bought at the
same time, so those will be able to run Ubuntu quite well, too.

Saving money is nice, but changing the way an entire high school uses
computers is hard, no matter how much money it saves.

And, hopefully, a hundred years from now, someone will read that last
sentence, and laugh. Because everyone will be using Linux.

On Mon, Nov 17, 2008 at 7:12 PM, David McNally <david3333333 at>wrote:

> Hello everybody.
> This question will probably take a little while to type, but I'll try to
> get it through.
> First off, I should probably point out that I live here in the United
> States, in northern New Jersey. The kind of people who live around me are
> rich idiots; they're the kind of people who, somehow, have a lot of money,
> but still use Windows. No one here knows anything about Linux, let alone
> Ubuntu.
> I use three different Operating Systems every day: Ubuntu at home, OS X at
> school, and Windows everywhere else (mostly friends' houses). It's
> confusing, but I'm pretty good with all three of them. Obviously, Windows is
> still the worst of the three, and I try to avoid it as often as possible,
> but that's not too hard. However, I'm completely stuck with OS X at school.
> I actually have classes where we sit in front of Macs and learn to use
> Microsoft Office 2008. Which means I'm stuck using that stupid ribbon that
> those Microsoft imbiciles put into Office 2008. We also browse the web with
> Safari, the crummy web browser that Apple put into OS X.
> Then I go home to Ubuntu and everything's just perfect.
> I'm not saying that OS X is terrible; it's actually pretty good. But time
> after time, the teachers and students are confused with one program after
> another not loading or freezing or something. The IT people, in my opinion,
> have the hardest job in the entire building. They have to make OS X Server
> work with 500-some-odd computers with OS X (which is harder than it sounds),
> and install Office 2008 on every computer, and if anything stops working,
> they're the ones who have to fix it. And, needless to say, there are many
> other programs that they use.
> I'm thinking: what if we could just say good-bye to all of this and just
> switch to Ubuntu or Edubuntu. It would be hard, especially because the
> school has been on Macintosh since the early 90's, but that doesn't mean it
> wouldn't be impossible. Everyone was able to switch from OS 9 to OS X
> without too much hassle. I know that the Ubuntu/Edubuntu servers work pretty
> well, so they could replace OS X Server with that, and replace OS X itself
> with Ubuntu/Edubuntu. I know that you can run other OSes on iMacs, so we
> could do that, and we could replace Safari with Firefox, and replace MS
> Office 2008 with (One of my classes is "Computer
> Applications" which is really just learning to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
> etc, but my teacher is so used to using the older versions, which were
> always almost exactly that same, version-to-version, so she is completely
> confused with the ribbon and all of the other changes. I know that OO.o will
> probably never put in the ribbon.)
> But I'm still the only person that I know that uses Linux. I'm on my little
> Linux island, surrounded by Windows and OS X. Many of my teachers don't even
> know what Linux is, let alone Ubuntu or Edubuntu. The school has spent
> hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, I did all of the math) on software
> alone; for reasons I don't understand, the school always has to have the
> most recent version of everything, especially OS X and MS Office.
> Still, I don't see any reason that it wouldn't work. Everyone would be
> using OO.o, so it would be just like older versions of MS Office, and the
> computers would never get viruses, and I know that there are many
> open-source Linux programs for helping teachers. It couldn't be done
> overnight, but they could do it over the summer vacation (or maybe even the
> Christmas vacation). For the few programs that we use where there is no
> Linux alternative (by the same company or an open-source clone), we would
> have to use Wine or something like it. I'm not sure what the other
> alternatives are, but we could find out.
> Would we be able to do this at all? Also: is Edubuntu really that much
> better for schools than Ubuntu?
> Please let me know what you think.
> Thanks,
> David McNally
> --
> David McNally
> david3333333 at
> apt-get moo

David McNally
david3333333 at
apt-get moo
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