Absence of open source at IUPUI

21 06 2010

Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis is an urban campus shared by Indiana University and Purdue University, two large, well-funded public education institutions. There are Schools of Computer Science, Computer Information Technology, and Informatics. IU’s University Information Technology Services does an excellent job of supporting students on all of IU’s campuses. (I am not just saying that because I work for UITS.)

However, despite all the up-to-date computer labs with dozens of computers, free software deals from Microsoft and Adobe, and 24/7 technical support, IU seems to be lacking one thing: open source. There is some Linux/UNIX software available through IU’s software site, IUWare. However, the amount of Linux software there is far outmatched by the software available for Mac and Windows.

Indiana University has deals with several software vendors, in particular Microsoft and Adobe. These corporations provide free software to faculty and students in the hopes that they will continue to use their respective software after graduation. A copy of Adobe CS5 Design Premium can cost as much $1,900. A Microsoft Office 2008 license can cost at least $150. OpenOffice may not be as feature-rich as Microsoft Office, but it would certainly get the job done for 99% of users and it’s free.

Unless it is detailed in IU’s agreement with Microsoft and Adobe that it not push open-source options too hard, I do not see why it should not become a bit more open about open source. At the very least, it is free software that the University will not have to haggle over every few years.

There. That was my first rant over open source. I will get hate mail.

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Ubuntu 9.10: First impressions

2 12 2009

I realize that Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala was released two months ago. However, this is my first experience with Linux. So far, I have to say I am impressed with the Ubuntu experience.

Ubuntu-logo.gifGetting Ubuntu
Since it is so outwardly open source and free, getting a copy of Ubuntu is exceedingly easy, especially when compared to obtaining copies of Mac OS X or Windows. Simply go to the Ubuntu website and click on the big “Download” button. It is a 630+ megabyte file, so beware if you are on a limited internet connection and do not have much time on your hands. Once the disk image (a .iso file) has been downloaded to your computer, simply burn the disk image to a 700MB CD and just like that, you have a fully functional install and boot disk, ready to go.

Trying out Ubuntu
Something that I really appreciated in the Ubuntu Live CD was the option to boot off the CD and try the operating system before installing it. As someone who had never touched Linux before, this is an excellent way to check out the OS, use some of the bundled software, and get a feel for it to decide if it is really for you. This is something that one cannot do with Mac OS X or Windows without going to a retail store and trying it out there.
The experience was a little pokey, due mainly to the fact that running a computer off an optical disc is going to be slow, even on the fastest computers. The interface is clean and bright. OpenOffice, Firefox, and all the utilities are easy to find and ready to use.

Installing Ubuntu
I have not had the opportunity to install Ubuntu on a computer yet. I do have plans to install it on my mom’s crappy old Dell, with 256MB RAM (the minimum for 9.10) and a 2.4 GHz Intel Celeron processor. The hard drive in that computer is in dire need of repair, so it remains to be seen if it will be suitable for a new operating system. I have plans to buy a small FireWire 400/800 drive and use it as an alternative boot disk for my Macs.

Overall impressions
I have to say that, from initial impressions, Ubuntu is an impressive and mature alternative to proprietary desktop operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X and Microsoft’s Windows. I look forward to using it and providing more details of my experience with it to you, my loyal reader.