Subject: Re: support for a small US college going GNU?
From: robin <robin@roblimo.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2005 06:35:01 -0400


>On enough desktops, the per-unit differential _does_ add up, but not as
>fast as a naive (retail, home, or business pricing) estimate would
>suggest.
>

Erich -- the New College IT guy -- emailed me and I sent him my phone 
number. I assume he'll call at some point. I have several 
friends/sailing buddies who teach at New College, plus my 
recently-departed editorial intern/assistant was a student there.

My intent is not to become a FOSS salesperson (yes, I know all the usual 
pitches and can point to all well-known research material) as much as to 
put him in touch with local business, academic, and non-profit 
(professional) Linux users, some of whom are IT managers for 
high-profile local businesses. I'll also introduce him to the famously 
Linux-using IT dept in Largo, FL, one county north of here. Largo claims 
the lowest IT expense of any FL local government as a percentage of 
total city revenue and per city employee.

There are barriers, though. One is natural human conservatism. I'm 
trying to switch from KDE to Gnome and not finding it all that easy. I'm 
also trying to learn how to use MS Office for some studies about what 
kinds of formatting will and will not survive transitions to and from 
OOo, and figuring out the new (to me) office software is even harder 
than the desktop change.  I think about some of the non-computer-lover  
New College profs I know, and, well.... I dunno.

We'll see how it all goes. I think Eric Jahn, who singlehandedly 
maintains the entire (Linux-based) IT infrastructure for the local 
United Way and most of its affiliated charities, will be more credible 
than any of us. Ditto Logan Tygart, chief admin for a large and 
profitable local Web hosting service, and Austin Theen, who maintains a 
number of local small company IT operations as a consultant -- and whose 
family has been around here forever and therefore has many 
business/board/political connections. Austin has been moving his clients 
steadily to Linux, very low key, and can show Erich how their 
maintenance/admin bills go down after they switch.

On the other hand, Florida elected officials tend to have big "For Sale" 
signs around their necks and Microsoft has not been shy about buying. On 
the gripping hand, Florida is in a chronic budget crunch and politicians 
here are always looking for ways to do things cheaper. Even 
Congresswoman Kathy Harris (R-unearned wealth), whose nominal geographic 
district includes New College, and her staff have started asking about 
potential savings with Linux and FOSS.

Always interesting.... and there's always a story to be written no 
matter how things play out...

- Robin