Linux optimize

Linux FUD in the American classroom

FUD still exists -- even in the institution of education. Jack Wallen calls out for everyone to spread a little truth -- even if that means standing up to your chair, CEO, COO, or instructor.

It was brought to my attention, by Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland (in his article, aptly titled, "Linux FUD in College Education") that the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) continues on, strong as ever. Only this time, the FUD isn't limited to corporate America -- now the FUD begins in the classroom. That's right, the very place where nurturing the mind is tantamount to developing the free-thinking leaders of future generations is laying the FUD on thick.

In a modern textbook for a Management Information Systems class Linux is being portrayed as:

  • Rarely used (only when budget is very limited)
  • Only has one commonly used application (OpenOffice)
  • Created by "a loosely coupled group of programmers who mostly volunteer their time"

Not a single one of those statements is valid and current.

Don't get me wrong; I understand that our educational system is hyper-challenged for budgetary dollars. I know students are going to high school with no texts at all! But the idea of using outdated materials within a university Information Management class is unfathomable.

Information Management. If there's one class that certainly benefits from being current, it's that. But instead, they are spreading FUD ripped straight from the early years of Linux.

Of course that is also quite a narrow scope of a view. Canonical just released the following bits of information:

  • In 2 years Ubuntu has been pre-installed on $7.5 billion worth of hardware;
  • Canonical is working with leading ODMs in Taiwan;
  • Ubuntu will account for roughly 9% of all global PC shipments by 2014.

Rarely used? One commonly used application? Wrong and wrong. When it comes to information technology (and PC sales), facts can no longer be America-centric. The global view of Linux and open source is widely different than that of the US.

This whole mess is also made even more pronounced when you think of how so many schools in the U.S. (especially schools in small or rural areas) are running out-of-date hardware and software that was considered new over a decade ago. These schools are not only giving their students information that is barely relevant, they are missing out on the possibility of bringing new life to their IT and doing so for free.

I understand that the age-old war between open source and proprietary software will continue on. Open source threatens proprietary software at its heart -- the bottom line. Educational systems -- especially universities who feel an obligation to crank out MS-centric students into the world of business -- are not going to willingly open their hearts and minds to systems and software that could possibly cause Microsoft to close the flood gates of funding. I get that. What I do not understand is the idea that it's okay for schools to be handing out misinformed texts that will do nothing but perpetuate the lies.

FUD is a tactic as outdated as AfterStep. There is way too much information available now, and anyone writing a book filled with mis-information should simply not be publishing. And for a university MIS program to be pushing said books onto their students is irresponsible. Schools should be striving to solve the problems, not be part of them. In no way, shape, or form does FUD belong in a classroom -- be it about Linux, Windows, Mac, or Android.

If you spot FUD in the realm of education, stand up and point it out -- to the teacher, to the department chair, to everyone necessary. Do not stand for the spread of lies in the institution of education. Period.

The educational system needs to open up it's mind and spread truth, not lies. Linux has continued to gain momentum. Every platform has its place and its purpose. The very idea of a one-size-fits-all universe is over. The revolution of FUD will not be digitized. You have your orders.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

41 comments
bobc4012
bobc4012

I suspect you will find in areas where high tech abounds, the schools are attuned to Linux and (F)OSS (excepting areas in the state of Washington, maybe). But you have the right idea IMHO. Especially if you can get it into the high schools that teach computer courses.

bobc4012
bobc4012

You didn't clarify the level of intelligence. Even most idiots can guess a couple of questions right on an IQ test! I guess I'm still "evolving"! :-)

bobc4012
bobc4012

teaches Linux as well as Windows. It also provides RH approved courses along with the CC certificate that allows one to take the RH certification tests at any approved by Red Hat. I took some classes back in the early -mid 90s and they were using Free BSD to run most of their computer training programs except for, obviously, courses for Microsoft products. BTW, they still teach COBOL because too many companies still run it on their mainframes and because of past lay-offs, retirements, etc., COBOL programmers are hard to come-by now! They requested the CC to teach it!

bobc4012
bobc4012

Sorry, no "delete" mechanism provided.

whitshade
whitshade

I'm writing and have almost finished a book on open source software for education that seeks to address this problem. My goal is to inform educators about the veritable ocean of open source software with educational potential that is available while seeking to set aside the apprehension that arises whenever the topic of non-proprietary software arises. The attitudes presented in this article do not surprise me. Knowledge about open source is growing. As this knowledge grows, this fear shall surely sobside.

griswald.goulton
griswald.goulton

Case in point, no one it seems is willing to proudly admit that Android IS Linux, and I look forward to the next 12 months, Go Google!!! John

conspiritech
conspiritech

I recently had an Applied Information Technology intro class. The book was filled with misstatements and misleading gloss-overs (as well as being so non-technical as to be barely useful to the computer-literate 17-19 year olds who made up the rest of the class. I don't remember what it said about Linux but it did not directly talk much about Windows, either. The overall approach to the textbook was just wrong (yes, we know what a USB port is). I'm sure it was MS centric, but it wasn't overt. Doesn't seem to make sense when Linux has a majority in the server market to pretend it doesn't exist for IT students, no more how much FUD the textbook makers experience. As for professors and students, mostly people don't have a clue what I'm talking about if they start talking about linux. And I don't think they're the least bit curious. Probably have never heard of it or it's kind of like they see it as like hot-rodding/ modding cars. A hobby, not useful to real life. So.... I guess that comes from having PCs and laptops at retail preinstalled with windows for 20 years. They don't see it as relevant enough to think about and so it stays out of the mind share of the PC world.

grax
grax

"The educational system needs to open up it’s mind and spread truth" They also teach Creationism! Truth is a variable feast. Have you not been following the US Presidential election campaigns? If you want an honest world you'll probably be best off praying for it. I've never been fond of the expression FUD. After all, by spreading disinformation one one introduces Doubt, which creates uncertainty, leading to Fear! So, "DUF" works for me and it's close enough to DUFF, a word that variously means defective or buttocks Take your pick.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Linux evolved, but windows is the result of intelligent design. Sorry, couldn't resist... :D

llewellyn
llewellyn

It is just so sad when IT graduates leave an institute of learning claiming to be "computer literate" because they are able to use MS Word and Excel. I see this day after day what a travesty!!!!!!

LorinRicker
LorinRicker

Don't be shy! Name names!... What textbook is spreading this junk? Which schools are using it? Let's call 'em out! Folks should be held responsible for what they write and what they teach.

robertr64
robertr64

Was this by chance the "Using MIS" book by Kroenke that Marist IT courses are using? It's very Microsoft-centric, and while it does mention open source as a viable alternative for low-budget sites, it focuses more on cloud and web applications rather than the desktop.

steveh
steveh

For the past two years I've been teaching a PC troubleshooting and repair class to high schoolers in an alternative education class in western Washington. The computers are donated by my clients who upgrade to new systems or they are surplused by other organizations and we get them for free. Then we repair or clean them up and install the latest version of Ubuntu and give them away to folks, mostly young students but some seniors, who can't afford to buy them. Every once in a while we'll let a system go that has Windows on it by request, if we have the installation disks, but we encourage folks to use Linux.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

* Among the social issues of the day, few are as widely debated as the right of women to vote. * By the year 2000, most businesses will own a computer. * We some day hope to send a man to the moon.

hauskins
hauskins

It may be that people in general don't use Linux for their desktops but where I am we use Linux servers by the hundreds. LAMP and research are the main applications. We also have research groups that use Linux for workstations and daily desktop needs. Also keep in mind that Mac OS X is in the same OS family... Take a look at http://www.levenez.com/unix/history.html)

PhilM
PhilM

I have been involved recently this side of the Pond in an online discussion over the very same subject. When you have software suppliers who only sell commercial products to educational establishments and have to blink when you say "FOSS" then here is a good place to start. Our conversation started over Gcompris (which I am involved with in albeit in a small way). Perhaps if these sales companies were to realise that they could package and sell free software then the take up would increase. A capitalists dream - selling a product that is free .. :-)

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

Please include more/better facts. Jack writes pro-Linux rhetoric all the time and that's cool because Linux is awesome! But this, and many other, bits from Jack seem very thin and come from a place of emotion rather than factual information. Linux is awesome, has been for years, and only gets better, but this article does little to further the idea that Linux is a serious OS with serious applications.

zefficace
zefficace

I would say it is at the very least an admission that Linux really is a competing product. I would also say that the FUD is coporate funded mindwashing so as to prevent people from finding out if Linux is a good fit for them. The fact that there is still FUD today indicates a fear that Linux might truly compete if the public was left free to evaluate and compare Linux to other solutions. That fear is almost a good thing... It just like that supposed 1% market share which is probably a crap statistic for very long time. Why even care how many Linux installs there are if not to try and convince the public that Linux is crap. And how do you really track and measure that which is not sold and counted in the first place? In fact, anyone who accepts any information that they receive as fact without verification from mutliple sources or empirical data is a fool. That goes for what you get from school. Everything from revisionist histories to computer science is a potential lie, or at least an exageration. The motivation for Linux FUD, may it be sucking up or bullying, is clearly coming from fear of not competing otherwise. The next question is how to make that fear come true?

pgit
pgit

I taught an A+ certification course at a business development center run by the local community college. They had 2 and 3 day courses for workers to refresh/update skills on a number of applications, there was at least one running every day. They were certified by the manufacturers to teach these courses, eg Microsoft checked them out and gave them their blessing to run outlook, word, excel and basic windows courses. Originally they also ran Corel WordPerfect courses, which were more popular than the word course. The BDC took polls and over the years the secretaries and such attending the classes preferred WordPerfect over word, regardless of which they actually used at work. Microsoft came by (literally a man dropped in) and told the BDC in no uncertain terms that either the WordPerfect course goes, or all the Microsoft courses will go, along with the certifications from MS. Straight up threat. Bullying as plain as the nose on yer face. I'm sure this was not a unique situation. The textbook Jack is talking about may well be trying to earn brownie points in a similar atmosphere to what I witnessed at the BDC. Fact is most techs coming out of school are going to go to work on Microsoft systems. How does a textbook publisher distinguish themselves and gain the favor of Microsoft? It's probably a pretty competitive market, those text books. Maybe the FUD is just sucking up to the 800 Lb gorilla in the room?

ArtyChoked
ArtyChoked

Spreading FUD about Linux can only come from one place, and no, it has nothing to do with nationalism or chauvinism. Follow the money, and you'll see that I don't have to even name the source of these lies; you all are big people, you can figure this out. Linux is probably the savior of modern, traditional IT data centers. It scales, (unlike its primary competition) it can serve either as a single-user or massively multi-user, MP/MT system, it is probably as secure as its alternatives if not even more so than most, and it comes with applications that its competition sees no reason to supply for free (think sed, vi, emacs, Python, Perl, Ruby, git, Mercurial, svn, GCC ... the list goes on forever) -- or was that an opportunity to fleece the customer set? Me, I think the FUD should be going the other way. What kind of future does WIndows have? Why, if Windows 8 is so great, do 75% of all major desktop-using organizations refuse to consider it? Why, if its supposed "innovation" is so notable, will Microsoft NOT release its code -- or at least fragments of it -- to its most technical user base? The last 17 years of my experience with Linux, if not 100% perfect, have certainly been real, and I certainly have been challenged and encouraged to provide my own fixes, my own inputs, and my own education as to how this UNIX run-alike works. I can't say the same thing for my experiences with its competition (if we take *BSD off of that competitor list), which has been marked by frustration, proprietary barriers, "no way out" situations, the most DoSed OS on the planet, and oh yeah, let's not forget Patch Tuesdays (just to keep things interesting). And I'm not getting off my soapbox without noting that higher education should be the very last people to spread FUD about an OS that's completely free, with no strings attached -- completely dissectable, fairly well-documented -- the perfect OS on which to learn how an OS is built and tested. It's true. I develop OS functionality & designs for a living (not Linux), and if I had to teach how the OS business works, I'd be dissecting Linux and teaching the lessons its developers have learned.

jpgeek5704
jpgeek5704

Would there be so much FUD if educators knew that the Mac OSX is just another distribution of Linux?

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"[i]Ubuntu will account for roughly 9% of all global PC shipments by 2014.[/i]" What's the definition of "all global PC shipments"? It can't mean desktop operating systems.

eCubeH
eCubeH

of 'a modern textbook for a Management Information Systems class' because ...? If you are particular about changing opinions, then identify specific sources, and address them one by one. Don't be vague!

Slayer_
Slayer_

There are a large number of TR blog posts that could use this advice. Especially those ones about how cloud is the future, everyone has a cell phone, etc.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

18 years is a lot of rust to knock off. Still, COBOL was like riding a bike...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Change your subject to 'Deleted by Author' and delete all your comment text, or Click the 'Flag' button, the Other option, and request the moderators delete your post.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The only point in using linux as far as I'm concerned is to set it up how I want it, not use some pre-packaged environment geared to the needs some strangers feel I should have...

Jaqui
Jaqui

I want ANY system I buy to be bare metal. nothing preloaded. hpow can some idiot that doesn't know me know exactly what use I will put the system to? they can't, so don't force their own choices on me.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Is this American law? Then it's no big deal.

TtfnJohn
TtfnJohn

Just a little note: FOSS is widely used by animation studios to produce their works and for reliable render farms. And too bad that Linux and BSD users can watch DVDs that Windows users can't. Most of that has to do with regional "licensing" than rampant copying and "piracy". Suck it up, guys!

tjwiley
tjwiley

I guess it's a good thing this is a blog post & not an article.

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

But a good many pieces of OS X are based on FreeBSD (Unix) which is an open-source project similar to Linux.

TtfnJohn
TtfnJohn

More like global centric than any specific location. There is more FUD spread in NORTH America than anywhere else I'm aware of mostly by people that aren't familiar with Linux or other Unix like open source. The FUD is global but far more prevalent in the USA and Canada than anywhere else I'm aware of. Then again, there are probably more FOSS purists in North America than anywhere else as well. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction and all of that stuff, y'know.