Letter From Cyberspace

Out of the blue I received an e-mail:
“Dear sir,
20140202 Thanks for your website. I much enjoyed it.
Due to link from a Linux User Group, I visited your website. May I thank you for your informative reports on Linux use in schools. While I dual boot or use Linux (OpenSUSE13.1)in Virtual machine on my work machine (Windows 7 with MS Office as base OS) as I need to be compatible with the company I consult to as they are rigidly an MS set up; and unfortunately Linux does not have a FOSS UK VAT ( GSTax) program so I do my company books on Windows with Quickbooks.
I noted your comments that some programs interact only with Windows because of proprietary programs only working on Windows. Here In UK and European Union there is at least a movement away to FOSS software for government use. Germany some towns (Munich, in France the Customs set up and Gendarme forces, and in Norway of course they use SkolLinux.
Thanks for your reports and my greetings to you. I lived in Calgary for many years and my wife taught in Saskatchewan before we returned to UK.”

I thanked the correspondent and made this reply:
“The world can and does make its own software and because we are in a hole we dug with tools from M$ is no reason not to fill in the hole. Monopoly does none of us any good. What efficiency is gained by using common methods is lost through high prices and inflexibility. In schools where I worked there was much less lock-in and students and teachers thrived on great performance from old computers thanks to Debian GNU/Linux.”

The letter does describe reality for many individuals and organizations large and small. M$ created a monopoly with many lock-ins, layers of them, but it’s still worthwhile to break out. Gaining freedom is a one-time cost with infinite future benefits. From time to time the benefits may change but they are huge and real. For me, the first benefit was performance and I recouped all my effort in the first week of use. Organizations that are severely locked in may take years to recoup the investment to migrate to GNU/Linux but they will break even and laugh all the way to the bank and with an improved competitive position in their own activity.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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